Nail a WOD one day. The next day the WOD nails you. It’s just life in the box and it’s all good.

Thursday, Mar 19

Strength: Snatch 1 rep max

My primary goal today was form. Yes, it’s always supposed to be form first. Some days though, I just grip it and rip it chasing that last pound or two. Today I was totally committed to form.

That meant I worked up to a single at 145#, about 20# short of my all time 1RM. These were supposed to be full squat snatches, so catch the bar as low as possible. That seemed to be my biggest challenge on the morning.

The last rep, I still wasn’t completely satisfied with my depth. However, Coach Lindsay said it looked very good. My friend Griff said that it looked elegant. Pretty sure that’s the first time anyone used that adjective to describe one of my lifts. So I’ll qualify that as ‘goal achieved.’

METCON: Festivus WOD 1
For Time
Row 1000M
50 Wall Balls 20# ball to 10ft target
10 minute cap

Two scores: time for Row and time to completion.

This WOD seems to suit me. I am in no way an elite rower, but I do consider myself competitive.

We practiced this WOD with Coach Tripp last Friday. It was my third METCON on the day and I scored a 6:35.

My goal for Thursday was to finish under 6. That seemed aggressive, but possible.

Rowing went very well. I was off the rower in less than 3:40. Not sure of precise instant the counter turned over to 1000.

Wall balls were done in sets of 20-15-15. I no-repped myself at least twice. Once for an air ball missing the target. Once because I wasn’t convinced I squatted deeply enough.

Finished the METCON at 5:52! That’s a 43 second improvement! Very pleased with that. Now the trick will be refining it to see if I can get under 5:45.

Friday, March 20

Open WOD 15.4
As prescribed the work out was:
3 Handstand Push Ups
3 Cleans at 185#

3 clean

3 clean

6 clean

advancing forward as you can with an 8 minute cap.

Looking at this WOD Thursday night. I got excited. I think I’ve pulled off one HSPU in the past year. But I’ve monkeyed with them here and there and I feel like I’m on the cusp of having them. I elected to do today’s WOD Rx hoping to have one of those classic Crossfit moments. I was hoping to be able to announce to the world “Hey, got my first HSPU’s in the Open today.”

My goal was to get 6 good reps and then any additional HSPU’s in the round of 6 would be gravy. Alas, No storybook ending today.

My technique is still too erratic. Under the pressure of the running clock I wasn’t able to stay calm and work out the kinks. The biggest flaw in my kipping is that I kick out and up drawing myself way from vertical and the wall. The other flaw is that I still arch my neck backward when I kip.

That’s a painful lesson to relearn when you smack the back of your skull against the base molding on the wall. Trust me. That’s a mistake you only make once each training session. And it’s still better than the last time I made that mistake. Couple of months ago when I craned my neck that way I hit the concrete wall itself. So this was an improvement.

I don’t know how many attempts I made. Some were just off. Some were just awful. That was part of the problem. I really struggled to manage my emotions. I went from, “Damn! That was SO close! Stay focused and get this next one,” to “Damn! That was horrible! What were you thinking?! Why did you think you could do this?”

Somewhere around the 6 minute mark, even though I was still attempting reps, in my head I had given up. I was making attempts, but in my head I was running through the family calendar for the weekend trying to determine when I could get back to the gym to attempt the scaled version of the WOD.

I admit. I came home from the gym in a funk. Let’s be honest. No one likes to work hard and come away from a competition scoreless! That just sucks. I was also beating myself up some about how it seemed I really overestimated my ability. But now that I’ve had a chance to reflect I’m ok with it.

The things I take away from it:

1) I’m pleased for challenging myself and making the attempt. Way too often I default to the scale version of any given WOD. Today I chose the harder path. That’s a small victory.

2) The 185# cleans weren’t intimidating at all. Going back to point 1, A couple of months ago I never would have attempted those. Too damn heavy. Today, I slapped on weights and hammered out a couple quick warm up reps without issue or trepidation. I’m not telling you I was going to do dozens of those, but I could have done a half dozen if necessary. So that’s a positive.

3) I need to record some HSPU’s look at the tape and get more practice.

Random Thoughts and Rumblings

Looking forward to going back to the gym tonight for competition class and practicing a bit more for Festivus. Curious to see what Coach Tripp has in store for us today.

I’m also looking forward to visiting Crossfit Renowned on Sunday and doing some more Festivus practice there. Although, I may sub out one of the Festivus WODs for the scaled version of 15.4 so that I can record a score for that.


I went back and forth quite a bit this week about whether or not I should do the workout today. I’m very glad I did

EMOM for 6 minutes:
3 2-hand Russian Swings
2 Double KB Clean
1 KB Thruster
Use a load you can handle

I did 3 rounds with 35# kettlebells and 3 rounds with 40#. I could have gone a bit higher, and on a different day, I probably would have, but I didn’t want to take any chances overdoing something before the METCON.

Open WOD 14.4
Complete as many rounds and repetitions as possible in 14 minutes of:
60-calorie row
50 toes-to-bars
40 wall-ball shots (20/14)
30 cleans, (135/95)
20 muscle-ups

This METCON and I have history and it ain’t friendly. When I did it during the Open Season last Spring, I completed 110 reps. I completed the row in less than 3 minutes, then spent 11 minutes flopping around on the pull up rig trying to get through 50 toes to bar. My judge at the time, said I got them all. I think he was generous. I was very dissatisfied and disgruntled about that WOD at the time. I had much higher expectations of myself that day and it left a bad taste in my mouth for days afterward.

Disliking the WOD that much made choosing to go today really difficult. I’ve been telling folks all week, “Friday will be a game time decision. We’ll see how it goes.” I know we’re supposed to face our goats, but sometimes it can be hard to screw up the motivation.

Even as I was walking out the door this morning at 5:45 this morning, I was saying to myself. “Go back to bed. It’s Lil Bit’s birthday today. Her Daddy really should be here to sing her happy birthday when she wakes up. This is just another WOD. Let it go. You can go tomorrow and do Cindy. It’s much more in your wheelhouse.” But I went.

The row today was very close to last time. I was rowing a very consistent near 1 cal per stroke at a pace of 23/24 strokes per minute. I think there were about 5 strokes that weren’t 1cal:1stroke. I’m very satisfied with that. I was off the rower under 3 minutes again.

Then it was time to face down the goat, toes to bar. Coach Lindsay offered some excellent advice with respect to the toes to bars. The first tip was don’t try to do to much too fast. Once T2B are gone, they’re gone. So pick a conservative pace. The second part of what she offered was, “even if you’re just doing singles, find a rhythm and stick to it.” She explained that last Spring she literally did singles, but built in a steady rest. So hop up. Do a rep. Hop down. Take one step out. Turn around. Take one step back. Hop up. Do another rep. Repeat.

While I liked that concept, frequently the first rep is toughest for me. So I went with a three-rep, three step rest cycle all the way to thirty. Then did a two rep, three step rest cycle to finish, with the occasional pit stop to chalk the hands. I was off the rig somewhere around the nine minute mark. I was both stunned, thrilled, and a bit intimidated. Five minutes was a lot of time and there was still a lot of work out in front of me.

As a group we’d been talking earlier about the METCON and I explained my past experience. So everyone knew it was a big deal to me to make it to the wall balls. That was the goal on the day. I’d never put a number on it. I just wanted to get into the wall balls. Griff was working alongside me and offered some encouragement and I responded with, “Hey. It’s all gravy from here on out!”

I completed wall balls in sets of 15-15-10 with no missed reps.

Part of me was hoping time would run out during the Wall Balls, after all, I’d met my goal and this shit was really starting to hurt. I never expected to get to the barbell. Hell, I almost didn’t bother to set one up. But after the last wall ball, I realized there was more than two minutes left. So onto the cleans.

I got 15 power cleans in the time remaining. They were all singles, dropped from the top, with a step back, breathe, step up and lift rhythm. Maybe I could of eeked out a few more, but honestly, at that point I was so surprised at how much better this WOD went today, that I was just grinning all through the cleans. Each rep felt like a bonus point.

So from Open season where I scored 110 reps to today where I scored 165 reps. That’s a pretty massive improvement. Yeah, that was definitely worth getting out of bed.

And Lil Bit? She seemed to enjoy having a private, silly, lounge-lizard style rendition of Happy Birthday sung to her when I got home. So I guess it’s all good.

I’ve come to realize that I need to reset my focus. Time to stop obsessing over the misses and the fails and the things I didn’t accomplish. It’s time to center myself again around what I DID do. Today is a prime example.

EMOM for 8 minutes:
2 2nd position hang Clean
2 Split Jerk
1 Split Press
Use 40% Jerk 1RM

I used 75# for this work, which is right in the vicinity of the prescribed weights. I had some 10# plates nearby on standby, figuring if the drills went really well, I’d move up to 95# for the last few rounds.

I never did and that bothered me a bit. Right there, I started down the tracks of negative thoughts.

4 rep at 65 % 130
4 rep at 75 % 150
4 rep at 85 % 170

As a matter of convenience, I did the first round at 135#. It was simply less plates to fumble with. That round felt very good.

The round at 150# felt ok, but a bit heavier than I expected.

Time was getting short for the round of 170. I did two reps where I pretty much muscle cleaned the bar from ground to shoulder. At the time I was really pissed at myself because these were supposed to be squat cleans and I’d allowed my form to go all to shit. And honestly, I felt slow today and was afraid to try and dive under the bar to catch it in a squat.

In that time and space, I was really pretty disappointed in myself. Looking back at it now a couple of hours removed, I can say to myself, “DAMN! I muscle cleaned 170#! TWICE! I’ve never done THAT before.” For me, that’s a pretty decent accomplishment! It suggests that if I can get my head right, get over my fear of getting under the bar, there’s some significant gains to be made on my squat clean. It suggests to me that strength certainly isn’t an issue.

That’s the thing I’m talking about though. I’ve got to focus on the positive. It’s a funny thing. I do it pretty naturally when I’m coaching kids’ sports. Even when plays go wrong, the first thing I’ll say to a kid is, “Great job. I love the way you hustled on that play.” Then from there we talk about what they could have done better. Not sure why I can’t apply that habit to my self-critique.

This is not new, either. I know I’ve talked about it before. It’s just that some lessons have to be remembered and relearned.

Hero WOD “Sham”
7 Rounds
11 Bodyweight Deadlifts
100m Sprint

A similar thing happened during the METCON. Bodyweight deadlifts equals 220#.

This is the first time I’ve completed this WOD, so I had no frame of reference. As a result, my goals and expectations were probably off. I didn’t know what to expect, but knowing that Wednesday METCON’s at CFD are usually targeted for the 12-15 minute range, I was looking for a score under 12. That was definitely ambitious, but it seemed possible. I also identified a ‘rabbit.’ Some one who was on a pace very close to my own who I intended to at least stay with, and ideally beat. I also figured with deadlifts and short runs, I should be in the top half of today’s class. I accomplished none of my goals.

I finished in 12:32.

I was in the last quarter of folks done.

My rabbit outran me by the entire 100M sprint.

All of that surprised and disappointed me. So I left the gym not in the best frame of mind.

On the way home though, my train of thought switched tracks. I started wondering, “220# x 77 reps. That’s a fair bit of work.” I grabbed my calculator when I got home. It’s 16,940 to be precise.

That means I moved over 8 TONS in less than 13 minutes! That’s not an insignificant amount of work! Better yet, I did it safely, with proper form and without injury. I know I’m gonna be sore tomorrow. But I will only be sore, not hurt. That counts for a lot.

Plus, I’ve set a new PR for another Crossfit Hero WOD and that’s always kind of cool. So in the end, it was a damn fine day.

Now I just need to keep that mindset and focus on what works each morning and not get hung up on what doesn’t!

Sundays are becoming my favorite strength training day. I’m usually rested since I don’t WOD on Saturday and you get to pick your lift from any of the 5 lifts worked in the week prior. So you can go with what feels good.

Yesterday, I chose to work the clean. It’s one I’ve been itching to test. Technically, the assigned work for the clean from Friday was to work up to 4 singles at 95%. I took some liberties with that. I elected to push through for a 1RM.

I warmed up a few reps at 95, then 115. Then I just started working singles, 135, 155, 175, 185, 195.

The rep at 135 had me second-guessing my idea of testing a 1RM. It was just weird. When I jumped to 155 things straightened out and the lifts got better along the way.

I was shooting the breeze with my friend Craig between lifts and he commented that things looked good and asked about my 1RM. I told him, “Technically, one time, I’ve done 200# plus the washers, so call it 202 ish.” That was back in April and it was one of those ugly, “I just barely got away with that,” sort of lifts. You know the type of lift I’m talking about. It’s the kind where afterwards you say to yourself, “OK. I didn’t fail, so I’m gonna count it, but damn that was nasty.” It’s been niggling at the back of my brain since I pulled that one off, “could I do that again?”

The lift at 185 felt really good. It was about that time I told Craig that I was definitely going to make the run at 205. Part of me wanted to skip the 195 lift, but the 20# jump seemed overly aggressive. So I did 195 and again, it was a pretty well executed lift. That gave me confidence to go for 205#.

It felt so good to drop under that bar, catch it and know that I had it. There was no doubt in my mind. It was definitely worth the walk to the PR bell! There may be a bit more in the tank for that lift, but for now, I’m just enjoying the fact that I truly feel like I cracked the 200# ceiling. Back in April when I got that 202, I got lucky and I knew it. I didn’t believe I could repeat that lift.

Yesterday, I walked away from that 205 feeling like I could do that again. Now I feel like I can say with integrity that my clean is more than 200#.

Sunday, Oct 26,
[in Teams of 2]
40-30-20-10 reps of:
power snatch at 95/65 lb
24/20 in box jump overs

40-30-20-10 reps of:
overhead squat at 95/65 lb

40-30-20-10 reps of:
wall ball at 20/14 lb

The original post said there would be a 30 minute time cap on this WOD. Coach Lori cut us all off at 28 minutes. That was plenty long enough. This one was a meat grinder. To the best of my knowledge only one team in two sessions completed this WOD and that team had a Crossfit Regionals qualified athlete on it.

Erin and I partnered together and I think we did quite well. I scaled the weight on the bar to 75#. When we got to the second couplet we did Toes to Bar for the round of 40. As we were working through the round of thirty overhead squats, I announced that I was doing all remaining reps of T2B scaled on the floor. My grip felt like it was shot and something in my left side felt strained. I didn’t want to push things too far, so we reigned it in.

When time elapsed, we completed the first two couplets, plus 40 wall balls and 28 burpees between us. Not too bad.

Monday, Oct 27
EMOM for 8 minutes (each arm):
3 1-hand Russian Swings
2 KB High Pulls
1 KB Snatch
Use a load you can handle

Coming off of yesterday’s METCON I was quite sore starting the day. I used a 35# kettlebell for this work. It went ok.

Strength: Push Press
Work up to 3 attempts at a 1RM. Craig and I shared a bar today. My best lift on the day was 195#. That’s just less than 90% of my all time best. For today, it will do.

Craig PR’d with an impressive 205#! Way to go my friend!

7 minute AMRAP of:
5 reps of kettlebell snatch (right arm) at 52/35 lb
5 reps of kettlebell snatch (left arm) at 52/35 lb
30 reps of double under

This wasn’t pretty. I scaled the KB to 44#. I made sure to work my left arm (weak-side) first each round. Double unders were floppy and sloppy today. I was just flailing my arms all over the place. I muddled through the first round doing double unders. For subsequent rounds, I embraced Coach Rachel’s pre-WOD guidance and did 3:1 Singles for the remaining rounds. The METCON was just too short to waste time making DU attempts.

In the end I finished 4 rounds and 7 KB swings. I would have liked this one to be smoother, but no big deal. Rest on Tuesday, come back at it on Wednesday.

Yeah. A second date with the benchmark WOD “Grace” and some 1RM floor press fun. That comment is gonna come back to bite me.

EMOM for 8 minutes:
Clean DL
Clean Pull
Use 60% of 1RM

Done at 115# – It was obviously Monday in that the first two rounds were very tight, but after that that body loosened up and these seemed to fall into place.

Strength: floor press 1RM
3 attempts at 1RM

This is another one of those ghost lifts that I either never write my 1RM into my journal, or I simply haven’t tested it, even after three years. You can bet I’m going to write this one down! Regardless, I figured a 1RM of 220# ought to be attainable, given my all time best bench press is 250#.

Craig and I shared a rack and worked quickly through the warm up lifts and each made a first attempt right at 225. Pretty smooth, so we agreed to jump to 235#.

We both lifted that. Craig decided he was done and asked, “what do you want to do?”

I answered, “I kinda want to try 240#.”

Craig shrugged, laughed and answered, “Of course you do.”

As I walked away to the water fountain I answered, “Why not? It’s Monday, I’ve got all week to recover.”

When I got around to actually doing the lift, I got it. It wasn’t pretty. It was what Craig dubbed a ‘kipping floor press.’ One of those presses where you arch your back lifting your ass off the floor to drive your shoulders in deeper and generate the leverage you need to finish it out. Not pretty, but I got it. Very satisfied with that as I ended up lifting 20 pounds above and beyond what I anticipated. Have to be pleased with that.

30 reps of clean and jerk at 135/95 lb

My first date with Grace was in October of 2012. I finished in 4:54. I didn’t really have a goal today other than ‘be faster than that.’

I intended to do sets of 11, 10 and 9 reps each. Eh, not so much. I got the 11 and realized that I may have been over ambitious. I did a short set of 4, just to get on a 5 and then did sets of 5 to completion.

I was very careful to position myself where I would not see the clock. I didn’t want it to influence me. There are days where I say “I’m going to finish in 5 minutes” and then rather than go as fast as possible, even when the fuel is in the tank, I start budgeting the time and effort to work to that mark. Today I just wanted all the reps done and then I’d check the clock.

When the last rep was complete, I found the clock and it read 4:30. Also very pleased with that.

The goal now is to break 4 minutes on this WOD. Another friend, the ‘other’ Greg W has brought up the idea of a wager to see who can get to 4 minutes first. Greg, I’ve been mulling that over and I’ve decided that I’ve got to respectfully decline.

The last time I bet against a guy named of Greg in a WOD off, it cost me bottle of bourbon. Losting the booze is one thing. More importantly it added 2+ minutes to my Fran time! If you’ve read this blog at all, you know I don’t consider myself superstitious, but I do believe in mojo and the die has been cast. WOD offs against guys named Greg are not good for my WOD times.

Now, if you’ll excuse me I have another date, a threesome actually. Me, my foam roller and a lacrosse ball are gonna get intimate to ensure I don’t end up paying for my aggression for the rest of this week.

I set a new personal record on my clean today. I cracked the 200 pound barrier. 200 pounds plus the ‘washers.’ I’m calling it 201.5 assuming the washers are a half pound each. I don’t know for fact that’s what they weigh. All I know is that it was important that I clean more than 200 pounds..but somehow 205 seemed like setting myself up for failure.

I’ve hit 195 pounds before. I’ve hit 195 for singles repeatedly for well over a year, maybe closer to two years.  I have also repeatedly failed to clean 200 or more pounds for close to two years.

There are lots of folks, men and women, who can clean that much weight and far more.  John, the guy lifting alongside of me PR’d at 245 two minutes before me. My buddy Matt also topped the 200 pound barrier cleaning 205 immediately after me! We swapped high fives and laughs about having that monkey off our back. Seems he’s been chasing the 200 mark as long as I have.

It’s a 5 plus pound improvement, only 2.5% better than the day before.  I’ve certainly had bigger gains. Hell, I improved my overhead squat by 30 pounds this week.  So why have I been high fiving the dog all day saying, “201, Oakley. TWO. OH. ONE.” Why does this one PR feel like such a big deal?

Some times a METCON punishes you and you alone while everyone else cruises through. Those days suck, but they happen.

Other days the METCON is just brutal. Everyone gets laid low. Later on I offer a few tell tale signs that you just survived a truly wild one.

EMOM for 8 minutes:
1 Snatch Balance
2 Sots Press
Finish the OHS
Use 30% 1RM

I did these with a bare 45# bar. That’s a bit lighter than the weight prescribed. It was plenty for me. Took a round or two to loosen up the shoulders to really get good Sots Presses. Overall OK.

Strength: Clean

4 singles at 60%
4 at 70%
4 at 80%

These all felt pretty good today. Started losing my grip during the 70 and 80% lifts. No big deal. Time was becoming an issue and to avoid getting frustrated, I only did two reps at 80%. I was very satisfied with those two though, so all good.

Every minute on the minute (for 18 min):
3 reps of 1R m clean at 50 %
3 reps of pull-up (chest-to-bar)
3 reps of plyo push-up

Here are a few signs that you just survived an insane crossfit workout.

1) It hurts to drive yourself home

When you hit the stage where power steering  and power brakes are no help, you know you took part in something special. The moment you flex ANYTHING you wince.

2) Clothes are flying everywhere.

Some folks habitually prefer to work out bare chested. I have no issue with that. Most days I stay dressed.

But some days if you’re wearing the wrong shirt it feels like it impedes your movement. It feels like it’s constricting you. Or it just gets so soaked in sweat that you’re carrying an extra five pounds through every rep. On those days, my shirt has to go. But like I said, that’s pretty rare.

Today, if there were 12 people doing that METCON during the 6:15 am session, 9 of them shed their shirts! Me included. Guys, girls. It didn’t matter. The shirts were all coming OFF!

And you can’t blame the weather. It was not an especially warm day either. 50 something degrees in Durham today. That’s it.

3) The best tell tale sign that you just survived a truly wild one? The coaching staff changes the METCON after the fact!

See that rep scheme up there? 3 Reps each? This morning at 6:15 that read 4 REPS EACH! This METCON was scaled back for everyone else because it CRUSHED the first crew of the day!

I got through three rounds, maybe four as an EMOM. After that, this WOD became an AMRAP for me. I have no clue how many rounds I completed. I’d like to believe more than 10, but I just don’t know.

Mostly, I’m just glad I survived. And for anyone at Crossfit Durham who did the WOD later today. Thank your friends in the early morning crew for taking this one for a test drive. Or perhaps better stated as ‘taking a bullet.’ 😉