So yesterday was the Select 8 competition at the NC State Fairgrounds. I very nearly skipped the competition. I’m kind of glad I didn’t.

The first Master’s event was supposed to begin at 5:30 at the conclusion of the team competition. However, things were running behind and it was obvious when I arrived around 2 that things were delayed at least an hour, probably longer. Great.

By 6 pm, I was alone at the venue, tired from having coached 3 sessions at CFD that morning, feeling creaky from 3 plus hours of sitting in rickety wooden arena seats or the bare concrete floor and just basically grumpy from how the day had played out. I had very little motivation to stay and complete the workouts.

I was texting back and forth with Erin explaining all of the reasons that I was thinking about abandoning the competition. Ultimately, a couple of things made me decide to stick it out.

First, I paid for it. Registration was $85.

Two, I hadn’t worked out since Thursday.

Three, these opportunities to compete against athletes my own age are fairly far and few between. I was really curious to see where I stacked up.

One other thing that influenced my decision, I spoke to a woman who was a member of the hosting gym and also competing as a Master. She shared that there were only a dozen total athletes registerrd for the Master’s division. Turns out only 9 of us showed up (stuck around?) 6 men and 3 women. I thought, “Huh. If I stay, I’ve got a 50/50 chance of making the podium. I kind of like those odds.”

So I messaged Erin back to say, “I’m staying. I’m just treating this as a very expensive drop in WOD.”

The first WOD: take 5 minutes to establish a clean/hang clean max finally got underway after 7 pm!

I had practiced this last weekend. I went into the day thinking that if I had a MONSTER day, I could clean/hang clean 215. After warming up, I realized that was extremely unlikely. I tweaked my knee at CFD in the morning and it was kind of balky. Plus, I just didn’t feel adequately warmed up as the clock was counting down.

I opened at 185 and hit that, with high power cleans from both the floor and the hang. I then jumped to 205. I took what I felt was adequate rest and failed two attempts. Both times I power cleaned the first rep from the floor. It was tough, but not that tough. Trouble was I couldn’t manage the clean from the hang. Both times I pulled the bar plenty high enough, but I couldn’t make myself drop deep enough fast enough to catch it.

I had well over a minute left, so stripped the bar back to 195, rested a bit then hit that. The reps were successful, but UGLY. Still, the judge declared good lifts, so I’ll take them.

We had roughly a 15 minute break before the second event. It was a ten minute ladder. It began with 5 push presses at 75# and 5 box jumps at 20″. The ladder jumped by 5 reps each round. I didn’t practice this one in advance. At that weight and that height, I wasn’t concerned about it. I was placed in the second heat for this event. I was startled and concerned to see how far the first heat advanced up the ladder. They went WAY beyond anything I expected to complete. That got me nervous (but remember I wasn’t treating this as a competition, right?).

When it was my turn, I completed the round of 30, plus 18 push presses. So it was 228 reps!

We received another 15 minute rest and then it was on to the final WOD. It was originally published as 10 minute cap 40 over the rower burpees, Row 40 calories, 40 GHD sit ups. Except there was a glitch. Apparently, the GHD’s that they had on site earlier in the day were borrowed from one of the competitor gyms and they took their racks home with them when the team competition ended. In a very informal, but democratic vote, the athletes chose that we would do 40 straight leg sit ups on the bare concrete arena floor instead of the deadlifts the event organizers suggested.

I did not practice this event prior to competition either. But of all the events this one had me most nervous. I wasn’t convinced I could do 40 GHD sit ups at all, when I heard there was a 10 minute cap I relaxed. I didn’t believe I’d even get to the sit up stage. So when I heard the GHD’s were out of the equation, I was actually quite pleased.

I was again assigned to the second heat and got to watch the first heat run the METCON. I was startled at how fast it went! One athlete finished in under 5:30. No one needed the full ten minutes to complete it. I thought to myself, “Crap. Guess we’re going to have to do those sit ups.”

When the clock started, I dove into the over the rower burpees. My shirt was soaked with sweat from the first two workouts and the floor of the arena was smooth and polished. I was very quickly creating a very large slick spot on the floor. The organizers had announced that step ups were permitted, so after 10 two foot hop burpees, I thought, “Shit. I just want to get through this with all of my teeth whole and still in my mouth.” So I went to step overs for the remaining 30.

My rowing was very efficient. Once I got the wheel spinning I was able to complete 40 calories in just 43 strokes. My judge was kind of impressed by that.

I hit the floor for the sit ups and that got amusing. On the slick floor each time I completed a rep, I slid backwards a bit. My judge was sitting on my rower and as she was counting she commented, “hey you’re leaving me. Where are you going?”

Never stopping my sit ups, I joked, “what? This is the sit ups for distance WOD, right?”

She laughed and said “Sure. Are you going to come back here?”

Without breaking my rhythm I said, “Nope. I’m not going that far. If you can still see me, you can still count. If you can’t see me, get up and come with me.” We both laughed.

I finished the METCON in 6:54. Based on what I’d seen in the earlier heat I had hoped to be closer to 6 minutes, but still, I wasn’t disappointed.

I’d seen the competition through. I’d had some laughs with some good people and gotten a thorough work out in for the day. It was an expensive WOD, but it was still time well spent.

I was surprised to hear my name called as the third place winner. I’d lost all sense of perspective as to where I was in the standings. I knew my clean complex was top half. I was optimistic that my second WOD was top 3, but didn’t know. I had no sense of perspective on the final event. Not gonna lie. It was pretty cool to hear my name called.

In the end, the evening was equal parts a) frustrating (running very late and the very casual attitude with which it was conducted. I recognize that it was late and everyone was tired. Still,things were very lax. I hope the event organizers can learn from this year’s event and improve on things for next year.) ; b) amusing – there was lots of banter among the athletes about how it was approaching 8 pm and most of us old farts were usually considering our bed times, not a second of three workouts; c) ABSURD – by the time the Master’s competition was underway there were less than 100 people TOTAL in an arena that seats 7,600! There were 9 athletes, perhaps 20 folks who were event organizers and a smattering of ‘fans.’ In fact, I’d be stunned to learn there were 50 of us there on the arena floor. Yet they still had the music blaring through the sound system as if the house were packed! Bizarre.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me, once I made the decision to see the competition through all I could do was smile and say to myself, “Hey, Crossfit is constantly varied and we’re training for the unknown and unknowable, right? Well, you’re living it here now.” With that mindset, I was able to roll with the changes and challenges of the evening, and hey – I came home with a medal. So I’m not complaining.