Sunday, June 28, 2015

Report: 2015 Metcon Games at CrossFit Steeltown

I almost called this a "race report" because as you'll see along the header of my blog, I have a LOT of race reports from lots of marathons and ultra marathons. Well, this is my first "race report" from my first CrossFit competition that my wife and I competed in yesterday, just outside Pittsburgh, PA at CrossFit Steeltown in Moon, PA. A small  *disclaimer before I even start: I know that in comparison to many mainstream CrossFit athletes, I have far to go, am weak, am old(er), and lack the flexibility and proper form if examined under the educated eye of a great coach or judge. I got it. I am, however, an open book and strive daily to learn and be better so my report is just that...MY report of my/our experience at our first competition. I'm sure my coach will point out all kinds of "issues" but that's his job and will give us more to work on and be better at. The learning NEVER stops and form/function/performance is never perfect. An openness to critique, pursuit to be better, and giving nothing less than everything in my opinion, really defines what a CrossFit athlete should be and I'd like to think I am one. So with that said...our first comp!

CrossFit gyms can make a comp whatever they want it to be. It can be a partner comp where you sign up as a 2-person team to compete. That team could be specific to male/female or female only, for example. The comp could specify that the "elite" athletes at gyms aren't welcome to attend. read that correctly! There was a comp recently that wanted all of us "average" athletes only. Other comps have options to scale down the events to make them achievable for all and others won't. So many variables out there and the 2nd Annual Metcon Games were no exception. For the Metcon Games, the format was: 4 events or "WODs" and the results would be tabulated as male and female. No age divisions and no scaled division. Everyone does everything to the best of their ability as an individual and that's it! At the end of 4 workouts, the top 5 moved on to the semi-finals and after that, the top 3 competed in the final to find the ultimate champion of the day for the men and women. Our day began with an 8:30am meeting and WOD #1 began at 9am and continued non-stop in countless heats throughout the day until reaching the semi's and finals. By 4pm, we were done and enjoying sumptuous burgers at a local watering hole called "Burgatory." Oh my my...

WOD #1: Row 2000 meters then do as many over-the-rower burpees as possible within 10 minutes. When this workout got announced early in the week, I practiced it twice. Both times I finished within a few seconds of 7min, 21sec then worked on an immediate transition into burpees while doing a lateral jump over the rower. My plan going in was to insert 5 pull "pick-ups" at every odd numbered interval (e.g. 1700 to go, 1500 to go, etc.) then get my breathing back under control for the final 200m to ensure a smooth transition into burpees. It all went to plan and I did the row in 7min, 24sec and did 27 burpees. While my technique and form have a lot to be desired (my coach will certainly work with me on this), I have no regrets. I really felt I gave it 100% and did it to the best of my ability. The video here actually captures one of those 5-pull bursts. Most of the time, I wasn't moving that fast and hard. My standing amongst all men for this heat: 19th of 36 men for the 2000m row and 27th of 36 men for the burpees.

WOD #2: 4 minutes to achieve 2 rep max shoulder-to-overhead (in any way you wish..strict press, push press, push jerk or split jerk) followed immediately by as many front squats as possible in one minute using the weight you hit 2 lifts with successfully. Well, if you know me, you know this WOD was probably not one I was looking forward to. It was my wife's favorite. (opposites attract!) I worked on this for the 3 days prior to the event and had a game plan. It didn't help that just prior to my heat, there was this one super strong girl who out-lifted my goal! (I got "chicked" before I even started!) Anyway, I got in one good lift at an easy weight to at least get a score but then had to strip the weight off the bar because the hooks were too low that held the bar. I raised them up at least 6" and re-loaded the bar for my 2nd lift at 115lbs. I got in two good lifts then loaded it at 135lbs. My goal was 145lbs that I hit earlier last week. Once I got two at 135lbs, a quick glance at the clock told me I was out of time. Only 30sec of my 4min remained...not enough time to pull off the springs, load two plates and re-lift so I just waited it out until the 1min clock started for front squats. I got in 5 at 135, took about a 10sec break then got 5 more in for a total of 10 in the minute. Lesson learned: make sure the J-hooks are at the right height before I start. That messed everything up! Regardless, it was a solid effort. My stats just in this heat against all men: 35th of 36 men for the weight overhead and 34th of 36 for the squats. The guy who took 1st in this lifted 275lbs and then squatted that 16 times. Dang. He is also 21 and won the whole competition at the end of the day. This definitely knocked me down a bit in the overall standings. (I'm the one in the blue shirt in the video spectators were allowed in the room)

WOD #3
: Sled Push with 90lbs on sled, 15 box jumps at 24", sled push with 135lbs, 25 box jumps, sled push with 180lbs, 35 box jumps, then 225 lbs on sled for as long as you can push it...all within a 7min time cap. Score is how far you could get. For the jumps, stepping on box was authorized and what just about everyone ended up doing because the sled totally gasses your legs and makes jumping on a 24" box downright....bloody! I started out great and jumped those first 15 jumps. After that second push, though, my first jump nearly ended with a cut shin and I resolved to step and but not stop. To my left and right, the other men were doing the same so I felt good. In my small heat of 5 men in a row, I initially trailed them all but by the final 2 minutes, I caught them all and was leading. I simply never stopped and rested and that paid dividends. I have found a lot of my endurance running mindset works in many CrossFit workouts when it comes to how to pace yourself for the long haul. I definitely have an engine! (I just need more strength to compliment it!) LOL! I ended up with 33 box jumps in my 3rd set of jumps and 3 completed sled pushes. My standings amongst all men during this WOD: 18th of 36 men.

WOD #4:'s the setup: 5 different movements and for each, you have 100 seconds (or 1min, 40sec). In between each movement, a 20sec rest not much! For the first 3, the score was the greatest number of unbroken done without stopping. #1 was double-unders (jump-rope), #2 was wall-balls (see video down below), and #3 was kettle-bell thrusters (I had never done them before!). For the 4th, it was a handstand hold. Score was the max time you could hold it. The last movement was the number of calories pedaled on the Air Assault wind-bike. So here we go: I grabbed my jump rope that I brought with me and told my judge that I've never strung two double-unders together. I can do 2 - 1 - 2 - 1, etc. but not two in a row. I still tried and didn't get any. I moved on to wall balls and really didn't know how I'd do. I surprised myself big time and got in 42 wall balls with the 20lb ball unbroken. Moving to the kettle bell thrusters...well, I got a big fat 5. I did 4 then rested and then got 5. Not good at all and something I could use a lot of work on. Next up was the hand stand hold. I faced the wall vs. facing out because I have a hard time getting up into the hold. For my group of 4 men, I held it the longest at 58 seconds. The last movement was the air assault bike (see video below). Again, a first for me but I did great at 33 calories. That was a total burn!  Everything was on fire so I just put my head down and pedaled and pushed with my arms as hard and fast as I could. In my mind, I just told myself it was just a short pain and then the day is over! It went well and that effort ended up being my best of the day. My standings amongst all men for WOD #4: Double-Unders: tied with others for last! :), Wall-Balls: 12th of 36 men :), Kettle bell thrusters: 35th of 36 men, Hand stand hold: 10th of 36 men, Air Assault bike: 6th of 36 men!!!

My attempts at stringing two double-unders together

Locking out after a kettle bell thruster

Hand stand hold for 58 seconds

At the end of the day, that last WOD moved me from 31st overall to 26th overall (I was 31st after WOD #3). Happy? Oh yea. I gave my best effort at the Metcon Games and looking around the room, I felt pretty darn good since my wife and I easily were some of the oldest competitors there. For our first competition, it was a great first impression! Here is immediately after getting off that air assault bike...courtesy of my wife. :)

After I got up from this, we both cracked open the Hammer Nutrition Whey and got that protein in our body where it was needed. We had been sipping on Hammer's Heed electrolyte but were looking forward to getting repair going with strawberry whey. Shortly after that, the top 5 women and men were announced for the semi-final WOD and then the top 3 of each moved on to the final WOD. Here is what they did and it WAS an awesome two events to watch! Brutal! (good thing I didn't make it to either...I would've been in serious trouble!)

Many thanks to Dannielle Ripper who calls CrossFit Steeltown home and invited us out for our first competition. You and Eric were great hosts and your "family" there at Steeltown are great! I know many didn't participate because they were the army of judge volunteers. They were great so thank you to you and them...and a belated Happy Birthday! For my bride and I, we had a great time and really enjoyed spending the time together and being in different heats so we could root each other on and photograph each other, too. (added benefit) We both told each other we wouldn't want to be there without the other...just like our first 7 months in CrossFit so far. We're already looking forward to the 3rd Annual Metcon Games next year!

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