War of the WODs is an event in which, I have wanted to participate since its inception 6 years ago. Yet I have never have because every year for the past five years it was scheduled the weekend of our childrens’ birthdays.

Why this event specifically? For a bunch of reasons:

-) It’s one of the largest in our area. So large that for the last couple of years, it has been hosted at the Greensboro Sports Complex/Coliseum. That’s a far cry from many comps where you’re sitting in the parking lot of your local box in camping chairs under a personal canopy dealing with the weather.

There were so many participants across all of the ages and divisions that there were 5 events running simultaneously from 9am – 5:30 PM in that stadium. And this was only the individuals competion on Saturday! There were even more teams running on Sunday! It was really cool to see and be a part of. Realistically, it is the closest a recreational Crossfitter like me will ever get to a Regionals style competition.

-) Given its size, I was reasonably confident that there would be a sizable field of scaled Masters men competing. I was not disappointed. 23 of us toed the line on Saturday morning. “Playing with kids my own age’ is something I’ve wanted to do for some time. I’ve participated in a handful of competitions now individually and as part of teams. Those were always just scaled…not Masters. So just like any other day in the box, I’ve been competing against and with folks much younger than myself. I wanted to do an individual comp where I was only being evaluated directly against my peers.

My goal was to place in the top of half of the field.

-) They do a pretty cool mix of events. They blend strength events, bodyweight and add a dash of Strongman style stuff into a pretty comprehensive and fair mix of tests. One year they had swimming! I was seriously bummed to miss out on that!

-) I needed something to focus on beyond the holidays. Every October when we make our traditional family oddessy to the NC State Fair, that day marks the beginning of my annual off-season and my personal season of eating. From the State Fair we go into Halloween. Then Thanksgiving and my and my wife’s birthdays all happen in a 10 day window. THEN it’s on to the year end holidays and the associated baked goods, rich eating, holiday spirits.

Every year i tell myself, ‘this year will be different. This year, I will stay focused and not put on those 10-15 pounds.’ In all the years since I’ve started this fitness journey, I have never been able to keep that promise to myself…until now!

This year, I have maintained a healthy happy 225 all through year’s end and into the competition weekend. I won’t lie. I hoped to be about 5 pounds lighter, but developing the discipline to at least maintain my current weight and avoid the hibernation insulation feels like a fairly significant personal accomplishment.

Back in October when the dates of the event were announced I told my wife, “I’m in!” Fortunately, she was in agreement and allowed me to go play. So how did it go? I placed 7th out of 23 men ages 40 and up. I am immensely satisfied with this result. I practiced most of the events prior to the competition and had a strategy and goals for all. In every event, I met or exceeded my goals. I can’t ask for more of myself. And based on what I’ve seen on the online leaderboard while a rep here or there would have improved my position incrementally; the gap between me and the gentlemen that made the podium that day was too great to overcome. So I have no complaints at all.

Now. If you’re not into the WOD by WOD recap and the nitty-gritty details, bail out now! The story is effectively over. If you want the blow by blow, by all means, please read on.

Event 1: Spaceballs – this was a floater WOD to be completed between scheduled events over the course of the day. It morphed repeatedly between the time it was initially announced and game day. Ultimately, there was so much confusion around the standards for this event that the event organizers literally said, “We’ll announce the requirements and answer any questions about movement standards the day of.” Tough to practice for something like that.

Initially it was announced as 90 seconds do as many ground to over the shoulder tosses of a 100# soft stone/D-ball. Trouble was when the balls they ordered arrived, the event organizers quickly realized that many women could not maneuver them due to their large circumference. They announced a modification to the event, but there was utter confusion about the standards.

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In the end the event was 90 seconds, lift 100# ball from ground to atop a 30″ box. Remove hands and demonstrate that the ball was at a standstill. Then move to the opposite side of the box, pull the ball to the ground on the same side. Once it hit the ground, repeat.

While the event was a floater for adults, kids were required to complete the event with their ball and box at 9 am. I accompanied my son and he performed the event quite well. Since we were there, I had 90 minutes to my first scheduled event, and I’d practiced just a couple of reps I decided, “what the heck? Let’s get it out of the way.”

I completed 15 reps in the 90 seconds allotted. I got one no rep for putting my hands back on the ball as I transitioned from one side of the box to the other. It was a deliberate and tactical decision. The balls where basically grossly oversized medicine balls which means they had seams and panels. You had to deliberately set the ball flat on a panel. If you set it down on a seam, it would roll. I made that mistake once early on and when I removed my hands and began my transition, the ball started to roll. I deliberately steadied the ball with my hands accepting the no-rep because the ball and I were going to end up on opposite sides of the box, if I allowed it to roll. That would have cost me additional time. With only 90 seconds to work. I couldn’t afford that. No big deal. Lesson learned.

15 reps was good enough for a 5th place tie. I’m totally cool with that.

Event 2: Blade Runner – This was the second event of my day.

12 Min Cap
30 KB Swing 24Kg/16kg (American)
Lunge Holding Kettlebell (held above the waist)
30 DU/60 Singles(must choose one or the other)
Lunge Holding Kettlebell
15 Knees to 90
50 Wall Balls 14/10
15 Knees to 90
Lunge Holding Kettlebell
30 DU/60 Singles
Lunge Holding Kettlebell
30 Kb Swings 24kg/16kg

My friend and I practiced this one at our box about a week before hand. The distance of the lunges was an unknown. The day we practiced, I completed the work in 8:30. In competion I completed it in 8:03 and while I don’t know the distances of the lunges, I am confident that the lanes were longer than the space my friend and I used in practice. So again, very satisfied. I placed 7th in this event. The 6th place finisher was 16 seconds faster. I wasn’t going to catch him. So no regrets here.

Event 3: Oxford Blues

2:00 Max Burpees over the rower
2:00 Max Calories on the rower
2:00 Max Calories on the Ski Erg
2:00 Max Shuttle run

This one was interesting in that it was universal. Every individual athlete from the youngest to the oldest did this exact same work out. My gym doesn’t have a ski erg. So I never practiced this event in it’s entirety. So I had no expectations going in. I was fortunate, in that a good friend and former coach over at Bull City Crossfit let me, Caleb and Brent come by on a Saturday and tinker on their rower. At least that way it wasn’t a completely new experience on game day.

Given this is all bodyweight I knew this would not be one of my stronger events. I scored 118 total reps, credited with a twelfth place finish. The 11th place finisher had 119 reps. So I missed out on one spot there, but I couldn’t know that at the time. The top finishers for this event were all around 130. I wasn’t going to catch them. So all good.

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I almost look quick there. Trust me. I’m not.

Event 4: Raiders of the Lost Ark

10 Minute EMOM
Odd Minutes: 2 Snatches, 3 Box Jump Overs max rep Ring Pull Up
Even Minute: 2 Snatches 5 Box Jump Overs max rep Hand Release Push Up

Brent and I practiced this event as well. Again, predominantly bodyweight, not my strong suit. On that day, we only counted the RPU and HRPU – I scored 28 pull ups, 47 push ups. That’s 75 reps. Add in the 85 reps for the snatches and box jump overs and it all comes out to 160, correct?

In competition, I was credited with 150. Honestly, that surprises me. At the time, I thought I out performed my practice score. So I’m a bit confused. Perhaps I should have checked my score card more carefully. But it would seem that in this event, I was not as efficient as practice. Ah well. It happens. I placed 14th in this event.Even if I had matched my practice score that would have only been good enough for 7th place. That wasn’t going to get me on the podium or impact my overall standings that greatly.

Event 5: Conan the Barbarian
Max Ground to Overhead
You will have :45 at each station to get the most amount from ground to overhead. You will have :15 to transition to the next station. Score is total reps at each station x weight for a total load.

Male Scaled Weights 95/135/ 155/185/ 205

I practiced this event twice and it was the one about which I was most excited. I was kind of bummed to have it occur at day’s end.

The first time I practiced I used all clean and jerks.

I completed:
10 x 95 = 950
6 x 135 = 810
4 x 155 = 420
2 x 185 = 370
Total = 2550

In my second practice, I snatched the 95# and completed 13 reps. I only worked up to 155# that day, so I don’t have a total.

In competition, while I don’t have the weight by weight breakdown, I put up 2810 TOTAL pounds! That’s a really nice improvement. I came in 7th for this event. The difference between me and the guys who finished on the podium was a minimum of 340#. There was no way to make that up on one lift and my performance was SO much better than practice that there’s no reason to be upset. It simply is what it is.

I said at the start of this section that I was disappointed that this event was the final of the day. I’m sure I could have squeaked out an additional lift or two, if this had been earlier in the day. But presumably, so would all of my competitors as they would have been equally fresh.

So as I examine the day overall, were there things I would have done differently? Possibly, but none of those things would have had a substantial impact on my athletic performance or overall placement. I should have brought better food. In preparing myself and my son, I kind of neglected this. I could have done better. I brought convenient packaged stuff: trail mix, Lara Bars. That was about it. Wish I’d brought some grilled chicken or better proteins.

Also, being responsible for my son as his coach and dad created some odd logistical challenges. There were times where I was occupied serving as his coach in his heat and I was scheduled to compete 30 minutes later. If I was alone, I might have used the time for mobility, recovery and warm up. But I have zero regrets about this. The benefits of sharing the day with him far outweigh any impact on my individual performance. Sharing this day with him is currently one of my favorite shared experiences with him.

In the end, as an individual competitor the day far exceeded my expectations in every respect. I just hope that next year, the event isn’t on my kids’ birthday weekend!

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