Flex Appeal and the Double Down Competition

It’s not easy being me.

What I mean by that is that I spent most of last week sick with an energy-draining cold, and because of that, I haven’t even had a chance to recap the competition from the 11th. CrossFit425 hosted their first annual Double Down competition, and it was a mixed-pairs (i.e., two-person teams consisting of one guy and one gal) competition with divisions for Rx and Rx+ (a.k.a., awesomely elite athletes). JD and I signed up for Rx, after convincing him it would be a great first competition.

The day started early, leaving my house around 6:30AM to get to Bellevue. We signed in, got settled into the athletes’ holding area, connected with our friends who were volunteering at the event, and eventually were briefed on the day. Then it was on to warm-ups and the first work-out at 8:40AM. We probably could have warmed up more, and we probably could have come out harder in the first work-out, but hindsight is 20/20. WOD 2 followed the first work-out immediately, though, and we did go all out there, which then warranted about an hour of rest until our third workout.

Teamwork

The pace of the competition, I should say now, was also very good. Although the length of the work-outs and all the heat times left about an hour between each of our work-outs, it felt like we had just enough time to recover with a quick snack and some water and watch some of the competition before it was time to get back onto the floor. The competition actually ended up running ahead of schedule, too, which is virtually unheard of, as anyone who has ever done anything competitive might know.

Our third workout was, by far, the hardest for me. Overhead squats and wall balls were right in the middle, and those two movements are notorious for slowing me down. However, pull-ups went quite well for both of us, especially considering that neither one of us utilizes the butterfly technique. (Side note: say what you will about the utilization of “fake” pull-ups in CrossFit, strict and kipping pull-ups are both burners in their own special ways–and yes, I can do both.) I was able to hit all of my sets unbroken, partially because the pull-up bars at 425 are high enough off the ground that I needed assistance getting up to the bar! Talk about motivation. Anyway, we got through the full 11 minutes without too much of a meltdown from me, although I was definitely running on empty at the end.

We had some time between finishing the third workout and starting the last workout, and that’s when we took care of the Wildcard WOD. Braxton had arranged a mini obstacle course consisting of a wall, a tire, and a weighted sled. Each partner had to go through the course once, and the team’s time was recorded. For the Rx division, partners could assist one another over the wall if needed, and thank goodness for that (well, for me). We completed the course, and I did not get stuck at the top of the wall, which is what I was most concerned about.

Train for chaos, right?

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The last work-out for us was a down-and-back chipper. When the WODs were released, I thought the chipper was going to be the hardest. Chippers almost always are for me, because the rep schemes always include numbers like “50” and “100” and “you’re probably going to die midway through this set.” However, the more I thought about it, the more I started to think that maybe it would be a good one for us. Certainly it would not be easy, but it could be a workout that played to some of our collective strengths, I thought. JD is very good at double-unders and quick on box jumps, and I enjoy deadlifting quite a bit. Partner push-ups were of concern, though, since I know JD can outpace me by a ways. We knew we needed to stick together on those, so during a strategy session prior to the competition, we agreed to pace the push-ups off of me. We also agreed that I would do more deadlifts, and he would take on a larger share of box jumps and all of the jump rope work since he can typically go unbroken or at least work in large sets, whereas jump rope is still a major sticking point for me.

Once the work-out began, we started flying. JD went unbroken on the first set of dubs, and I picked up on box jumps. I felt faster than I usually do, finishing twenty and moving on to set up for deadlift while JD finished up box jumps. We covered some major ground on the deadlifts (I love me some deadlifing) and got to the push-ups with plenty of time. Maybe it was adrenaline, and maybe it was because they were hand-release push-ups, but we also got through those quickly, without me burning out. And then it was back to deadlifts, a little bit slower this time, but still at a good speed. Then we moved onto box jumps–in which I realized my hamstrings would no longer fire properly because of all my deadlifts–and JD took control, went all-out on the remaining reps, and transitioned smoothly back to the jump rope, going unbroken, and giving us a final time of 7 minutes, 58 seconds (at least from what I could discern). We had a full two minutes to lie around on the ground and congratulate each other on a job well-done. It was a fantastic work-out to close out the day and an absolute testament to what teamwork is about.

Even with strategy sessions, things came up that we needed to work around. We adjusted on-the-fly, and we communicated. We anticipated where our individual strengths were and how we could capitalize on those. We anticipated sticking points, and how we could work around that. And most of all, we went in with the right mindset: to have fun and challenge ourselves. It didn’t hurt one bit to also have a few good friends there, and the atmosphere of the competition was positive and vibrant.

Oh, and our reward after all that work? Korean barbeque. Absolutely the right choice.

If you’re curious, here are the work-outs we completed. WOD 2 (Max Kettlebell Swings) and WOD 4 (The Chipper) were our best showings, finishing tied for 2nd and holding down 4th place, respectively. Our other scores were no lower than 24th, so at the end of the day, we shook out to 12th out of 34 teams in the Rx division. Not bad, not bad.

WOD 1:
AMRAP5
Max ground-to-overhead (85#/135#)
Only one person working at a time
Score is pounds lifted, e.g., (85*27) + (135*39) = final score

60 seconds rest, then…

WOD 2:
AMRAP2
Max kettlebell swings (35/53)
One partner is swings while other partner holds their KB in one hand locked-out overhead
Score is total # of reps

WOD 3:
AMRAP1121 Pull-ups
21 Hang Cleans (65/95)
21 OHS (RX: 65/95)
21 Partner wall ball burpees (RX: 14#)
21 Med-ball partner sit ups (RX: 14#)
Reps MUST be split 10/11; doesn’t matter which partner goes first on each exercise, however, partner A must complete 10 reps before partner B can start their 11 reps (not applicable to partner sit-ups and wall ball burpees)
Score is total # of reps

WOD 4:
Chipper, 10 minute time-cap75 Double-Unders
50 Box jumps (20/24”)
40 Deadlifts (135/205#)
30 Partner push-ups
40 DL
50 Box Jumps
75 Double-Unders
Reps can be split up however teams want to; ex: one partner may do all the double-unders, deadlifts can be split 35/15, etc.
Score is for time (results sheet showed # of reps completed, with time used as tie-breaker for teams who completed)

Wildcard:
Obstacle course
Partner A climbs up and over barrier
3 tire flips
1 sled pull down and back (45#/70#)
3 tire flips, then tag teammate
Partner B climbs up and over
3 tire flips
1 sled pull down and back
3 tire flips
Score is for time

Did I actually mention our team name was “Flex Appeal?” No? Well, it was.

Flex Appeal.

🙂

You Gotta Have Heart

All you you really need is heart.

Another competition in the books. This time, it was a team competition (Capitol City Throwdown) down in Salem, Oregon at CrossFit Salem. It was an all-scaled event, meaning it was intended for athletes that usually do not perform WODs Rx’d. Four of us who “grew up” at CrossFit HEL and are now at different boxes in Portland and Seattle decided to band together to light yet another fire underneath ourselves. (Also to spend quality time with each other!)

The disadvantage to being far apart and at various gyms is that our time physically training together was limited, and we also had to form our WOD strategies on our own. However, these ladies are all incredibly amazing people; we are all growing in this sport, and this was a great opportunity to test not just our physical limits, but also present us the opportunity to come together and work together mentally.

And of course, it was a blast.

We didn’t finish first, and we definitely didn’t finish last. We did the very best we could, flipping tires that weighed over 400lbs., performing what I’m sure was nearly a thousand box jumps, snatching kettlebells over and over, and setting PRs on several heavy lifts. And the whole time, there were high-fives, terrible jokes, and lots of positive encouragement (and yelling).

I’m excited for the Squat Squad (a.k.a., Magical Whiskey Unicorns, a.k.a. TBO&KS) to continue seeking out competitions in various formats and iterations. I’m also excited for us to watch each other progress through our different training programs with our respective gyms (which, by the way, are all full of super-awesome people. This community seriously blows me away.).

Thanks for being amazing, ladies. Let’s go places.*

Squat Squad!

Squat Squad!

Pretty much sums us up.

Pretty much sums us up.

The socks!

The socks!

This is my PR face. Lovely.

This is my PR face. Lovely.

 

*And cause some trouble. (Train for chaos, right?)

Better Late Than…

First, I accidentally scheduled my Monday post to go live on Sunday. Then, I missed my Wednesday post because I was having too much fun.

This last week has seemed long, given the holiday weekend and a break from the usual routine. I tried to be intentional in my wellness throughout, although I doubt the Thanksgiving dinner and leftovers did anything towards health. Wellness, sure. I can’t complain when presented with green bean casserole, dark meat turkey, sweet potatoes, and homemade pumpkin and apple pies.

Here is what I did accomplish over the past several days.

Thursday, Nov. 22nd (Thanksgiving Day)
Individual track day

I woke up somewhat early and drove myself to a nearby park where there happens to be a nice track. I spent the day focusing on my running form because I know traditionally, I have been a heel-striker, even though all I ever learned in dance said this was wrong. I watched some running tutorials (yup) the night before and got some good ideas for mobility and form drills.

One of the videos placed a lot of emphasis on good, proper warm-ups for running. For short distances, the coach said about 30 minutes is needed; those 30 minutes were broken down into different segments. I did what I could to incorporate increasing my pace, mobility, dynamic stretching, and other drills into the warm-up. My warm-up took me through about 1600m, and then my workout was another 1600m. I ran 400m, concentrating on making sure the middle of my foot, not my heel, made contact first, then walked 400m and threw 20 air squats in at the close of the walk. I repeated this, and then stretched. I was out at the track long enough that the informal “Turkey Bowl” games concluded, then it was off to prepare for Thanksgiving in Beaverton.

I found it mentally challenging to push myself to run–since running is not my favorite activity–and also concentrate on improving my form. The walks were mostly to give my shins a rest since over-doing it easily leads to shin splints in my world. My legs were spent for the remainder of the day.

Friday, Nov. 23rd
CrossFit HEL – WOD: Fran

My first Fran!

We started the day with a 3×3 front squat workout (three rounds of three reps). I lifted 70lbs. which was an increase from the last time I’d done front squats (40lbs. during an EMOM5 of five reps each).

Then Fran went like this:
21-15-9 reps for time of:
Thrusters
Pull-ups

I scaled thrusters to 50lbs. and used the box for jumping pull-ups. I wanted to use a green resistance band (60lbs. resistance, I think) but I couldn’t spot one in time; I may or may not have added resistance bands to my holiday wishlist. Next time, I’m looking to increase weight and get off the box for pull-ups.

Overall time was 7 minutes and 20 seconds.

Monday, Nov. 26th
CrossFit HEL – WOD: Annie

Monday’s workout started with lifting. We did back squats, working to a 2 rep working load, then scaling back for a round of 10 reps. My 2 rep load was 85lbs. and my 10 rep round was at 65lbs. My shoulders felt a lot better than they did the first time I attempted back squats, although the flexibility isn’t quite there. I still have to spend a lot of time shaking out my shoulders after my workouts.

After our back squats, we went to an “Every Minute On the Minute for 6 mins.” segment. With the 45lb. bar on my back, it was five lunges per leg on the minute. I felt good despite the occasional popping in my knee. That only happened a few times; I made sure to position myself better so I could avoid the sensation.

Annie was next, with a “50-40-30-20-10” structure of double-unders and sit-ups. I have not learned how to do double-unders yet, so I did single-unders (jump rope) with three times the required reps. I positioned my ab mat wrong, so my first 50 sit-ups were pretty difficult. After Coach pointed out the positioning error, sit-ups went a lot better. Overall time with mods: 12 minutes and 31 seconds.

Tuesday, Nov. 27th
CrossFit HEL – WOD: B2B Tabata Squats

I don’t really mind tabata work-outs. They’re good discipline, and they give me a chance to focus on my form.

We started the night with lifting. This time, it was a 3×3 press. Presses are a difficult lift for me, since you’re not allowed to use your legs (except to stand). However, last night in the 3×3, I pressed 55lbs. That’s a jump from the 35lbs. I was used to.

Next came an EMOM for 10 minutes. 5 push presses (read: you get to use your legs!) every minute for a total of 50. Most of us scaled down a bit, so I went to 50lbs. for push press.

Then there was the Tabata portion of push-ups and “bottom to bottom” squats. No, they are not team-building back-to-back squats. It just meant that our resting position was in a squat or “paleo chair.” 8 intervals of each, so the work-out itself was fairly short, clocking in at eight minutes total. My lowest number of repetitions in a given interval was 9 for push-ups (modified from the knee) and 7 for squats (which, after about the fourth interval, started to burn like fire in my quads).

There was much stretching afterwards. Especially of the quads.

Wednesday, Nov. 28th
Holiday Ale Fest

Nope. Not actually a work-out. Just a fun event with friends that caused my Thursday to be very, very tired.

Thursday, Nov. 29th
CrossFit HEL – Agility Course

There are probably better days to try an agility/obstacle course. Preferably not days when you’re still feeling the effects of some strong, tasty holiday ales. But, I went because I: (a) needed to work-out; (b) needed to challenge myself mentally.

One of my teammates is also in a similar boat where a lot of the skills in the A-courses are intimidating. My coordination is coming, but as in gymnastics, a lot of skills still require me to build trust with myself. My body has disowned me in many ways, and mentally, it’s a hurdle to overcome those limitations.

Now, granted, I only got through the full course twice during the thirty minutes. There were quite a few instances where I had to negotiate with myself to try something new. “Spider wall.” Swinging from Olympic rings in a monkey bar fashion. A balance beam suspended from the rafters. Jumping from the tops of boxes onto other boxes.

In regards to jumping from box to box, I noticed a lot of the same hesitation in commitment that I had in gymnastics classes. My first round comprised of a lot of analyzing of my next moves, weighing possibilities before executing a skill. During my second round, I tried envisioning myself making it to the next step. I know I can leap from point A to point B, at least in a jete-type fashion; so, I thought of bridging the gap between two boxes as a leap, and it worked.

The balance beam was tricky, partially because it was suspended from the ceiling. The first time I tried it out, it took me a long time to even figure out how to get up to the beam and then step around the first supporting strap. But, I got better each time.

Olympic rings were my biggest challenge. I never figured out how to climb monkey bars correctly as a child, and that movement was probably something I needed on those rings tonight. Coach helped me get the swinging motion right, but when it came to letting go and reaching out, I hesitated again, and eventually just had to do a straight drop onto the mats. However, I was up there, I thought about it, and now I know another skill to practice.

As I said tonight, I showed up. I could have easily skipped, but I didn’t. The rounds weren’t perfect, but I tried. I’ll get better with time, and again, those lessons are applicable to all I do.

Then, after my work-out, I hunted down some pho to round out the night. Not bad; not bad at all.