So. Back in October I initiated a self-devised training program in preparation for War of the WODS 2018.

I said then that I had two goals: 1) my goal was to finish on the podium.  2) I also said that “for this event this time around, I want to compete and have absolutely no excuses and no question in my own mind that within the confines of my life, I gave this competition all the attention that I could afford.” How’d it go? Sit back. Let’s chat.

Did I finish on the podium? Not even close. I ended up 12 of 16 athletes. ( I have decidely mixed feelings about that.

While there was no Rx/Scaled distinction for athletes in this 46+ division, the weights and movements were all established at the level of Scaled athletes in the age bracket below us. In my mind, that makes this a ‘scaled’ event. Turns out that repeat Crossfit Games Masters Champion Will Powell competed in this division on Sunday along with a couple of his training buddies and one or two other truly elite level athletes! That’s like taking your rec league softball team to a weekend tournament and discovering you’re in the same bracket as a Majof League Baseball team! This meant there were two very different competitions happening in this division on Sunday. There was the battle for the podium among these elite athletes…and then the rest of us.

I’ll confess, when I said back in October that I was hoping to podium, I was naive. It never entered my consciousness that athletes of this caliber would be in the competition. Ah well. Nothing to lose sleep over. It just ‘is what it is.’

For the second goal I would give myself a grade of a B (and that might be generous. I don’t know. I struggle with being objective in all of this). My training plan focused on the following:

1) Basic CF Training: this was simply getting in 4 consistent work outs per week. I was reasonably consistent here. Not perfect, but pretty good.

2) Rehab: I had a plan to focus on some element of rehabbing one of my creaky achy joints (ankle, knee, calf, shoulder) each day since late October. I believe I was most consistent in this aspect of my training and it paid HUGE dividends! So much so, that I stopped by my chiropractor’s office this morning and gave Dr. Krista a thank you hug!

All of my joints felt GREAT through the competition and still do 48 hours later! The best part was that of all the things that I might dwell on and fret over during competion, my body wasn’t one of them! I never worried, “oh, crap. How is my knee going to handle the twisting of the box jump overs?” Or, “Is my shoulder going to hold up for that 1RM Clean and Jerk?” My body was sound and healthy. That’s the first time in two years that I’ve felt this way!

3) Mobility: I did ok here. I did a fair bit of ROMWOD (not as consistently as I had programmed into my calendar, though). It became more a matter of mobility when the opportunity presented itself. I could definitely get more disciplined about this.

4) Nutrition: I missed the mark here. No two ways about it. I was 230# in October. I intended to enter the competition at 220#, hopefully closer to 215#. I weighed myself weekly. I got as low as 222# in November. I went into the competition Sunday at 225#. I simply wasn’t disciplined enough here. This is where I need to challenge myself most in the coming weeks and months. While all of my scores on game day were pretty consistent with my practice scores before hand, I just FELT heavy all day long. Felt as if I was just slogging through the day. That was a bit disheartening and a feeling that I just had to shove aside.

Skill Work: While this wasn’t a defined aspect of my War of the WODs training, another area where I probably did myself a disservice was in the limited skill work that I practiced over the past 3 months. I’ve been chasing a one-legged squat (a pistol) for ages. While this was the first thing to get compromised on any given training day, it probably should not have even been on my radar. It would have been wiser to a) be more dedicated to the training and b) practice a skill that we knew to be in the competition. Double Unders would have been a sound choice. Or perhaps more rig work to improve my pull ups.

A few other things that we learned/confirmed over the course of the day:

1) Skills/Technique Refinement – I mentioned earlier that I should have been working to improve my double unders. That’s evident when you look at the score board. Note: Crazy 8’s. That was 4 minute cap, 4 rounds 8 hang power cleans/8 thrusters 95#/32 Double Unders. I finished last with 90 reps. The guy in 15th beat me by 12 reps. That’s a big difference and the gaps only widen from there. Clearly, this is something that requires my attention. It’s a hole I need to fill.

Along those same lines, look at Down the River. That was 6 minutes to establish a 1RM Ground to Overhead, and max calorie row. Every calorie rowed was an additional ‘pound’ toward your 1RM. I hit a 185 Clean and Jerk, then rowed 87 calories in less than 5 minutes. For a final score of 272 and a 7th place finish. If you sort the scores for that event there’s a clear deliniation between the top 5 atletes (all scoring in excess of 300 points) and the rest of us in the 270-something range. Most of us employed the same strategy. Be warmed up well in advance. Hit something close to a 1RM in one lift, then row the balance of the time.

Here’s the thing. Nine times out of ten, I can power clean and then jerk 185# with confidence. Anything beyond that and things fall apart dramatically. I know that I have the raw strength to hit 200# or more. I’ve stumbled into a 205# clean on a day when all the stars were aligned. I’ve jerked it for a 3RM in competition before. So I KNOW the strength is there. The technique and CONFIDENCE are not.

I need to improve this aspect as well and need to talk to folks about how. This is actually where I spent the bulk of my spare time trying to hone a skill leading up to the competition. My logic was: if I could fix that flaw in my technique and make that 20# gain, that was going to be more beneficial then a few extra reps on my double unders. I still stand by that mindset. However, in the long run double unders are never going to go away. They will always be part of The Open. They will always show up in competitions. They are a skill I need to improve and make consistent.

2) Grunt Work is MY JAM! – I have always maintained that I LOVE the ‘pure work’ WODs. Give me something with low skill/technique, just lower the shoulder and go type WODS, and I’m good to go.

Check out the score for “All In” 6th place. That was a WOD where you push a wagon loaded with 225# thirty-five feet down the floor, then pull it back hand over hand via a provided rope. Max distance in two minutes. The trick here is the wagon has some sort of magnetic resistance on the axle controlled by a lever. So that adds drag to the wagon. I am very proud of this score. Especially when you consider that I did this WOD twice!

The first time I ran this WOD, there was confusion about where the resistance should have been set. My judge set it on the wrong setting. I failed to ask/check/confirm and I ran the event with the drag higher than it needed to be. This happened to two other competitors in my heat. So we were granted a second attempt late in the day. This is what I jokingly referred to as my bonus or “value added” WOD. Afterall, I only paid for 5 workouts. So this was a ‘free’ WOD. And if I had to repeat a WOD, this is the one I most wanted a second crack at.

It was, in the end, a very good day.

The Minuses – 
1) Need to dedicate more time and effort to ‘mainstream’ skills going forward.
2) Need to help myself out and sincerely pay attention to nutrition.

These learnings are not new or surprising, but they are significant and were demonstrated dramatically this weekend.

The Pluses
1) I’m overall satisfied with performance/results.
2) Feel like the training/preparation strategy was generally sound, but needs some refinement.
3) Pleased with how I mentally adapted to the challenges of the day (the competition level, judging challenges, extra WODs) and maintained a positive attitude.
4) The way my body performed and recovered in the days after the competition!

Will I do the competition again next year? At the moment I just don’t know. I enjoy this competition. It’s run very efficiently. The WODs are typically very attainable. I love working out in the atmosphere of the Greensboro Coliseum. It is without a doubt the biggest arena/event that I’m aware of in our area, short of Regionals. I really enjoy that aspect. However, there are a lot of variables that would impact my decision to participate next year. So, for now…we’ll see.