I have a pink sticky note next to my desk that says “Compete.” One of my goals during my time off was to really focus on my training and participate in my first crossfit competition. I’m happy to say I can now check that off my list. (Though I’ll be adding a new competition soon enough to replace it.)
One of the most challenging parts of finding a competition to participate in is that I wanted to compete with Gustavo specifically, for two reasons: one, at the time, I didn’t yet have many female friends who would be interested in participating with me, and two, I wanted a partner that was an English-speaker in case I got confused about any directions during the competition since we’d be competing in Brazil. Both of those, in hindsight, were wise insights.
We finally came across the Double IG Challenge, which had a Mixed Scale category. Exactly what we were looking for.
We were very lucky because we had just switched boxes and our new gym had a total of 26 athletes competing in this competition, which meant we had a lot of support and a lot of people we could turn to for advice. We joined those practicing for the competition nearly every day. It was a lot of training. I’m also doing my Strong Strong Friends programming, which is more strength focused, so often we would either go for the WOD and then do my strength programming or combine Double IG practice with my strength programming. In other words, two to three workouts per day.
On the day of the competition, we left around 6am to arrive by 7am for the briefing and explanation of the WODs. We only knew four of the seven workouts, so a lot was left to surprise. Fortunately, we were in some of the later batteries, so a lot of people went before us which gave us time to strategize.
|WOD #1||WOD #2||WOD #3||WOD #4|
8 minute time-cap
10m slam ball carry
One meter less each round until 5 meters.
|10 x 20m sprint
AMRAP keg squats
|1 round per person
8 minute time-cap
|7 minute AMRAP
1 rope climb
1 rope climb
|30kg/50kg slamball||20kg keg||12.5kg dumbbell/17.5kg dumbbell||*|
|WOD #5||WOD #6||WOD #7|
|1 round per person
6 minute time-cap
|9 minute time cap
200 single unders per partner
80 box jump overs (split)
40 shoulder to overhead syncro
|Two attempts per partner
Max PR hang squat snatch
|30kg/50kg||30kg/50kg (S2OH)||Erica: 30kg max|
For me, hands down, the hardest WOD was the first one. When we practiced it, we finished in more than enough time — about 7 and a half minutes. However, one thing we picked up on after running at the beach one day is that I get overheated extremely quickly. When we practice, we practiced indoors in the air conditioning. On competition day, we were outside in 95+ degree weather. After my third set of burpees, I ran back to Gustavo shaking my head saying “I’m not going to make it.”
WOD 2 immediately followed the first one. So if I was already out of breath from the burpees, imagine the sprints! Fortunately, Gustavo was able to do two at a time, while I did one, and then we went all out on the squats. Had I been a little faster on the sprints I think we would have been able to get to 120 repetitions instead of 100.
I adored WOD 3 and WOD 4. WOD 3 required more strength and the 12.5kg dumbbell was pretty light for me. We were able to finish in 6:41 minutes, which was just slightly longer than when we had practiced the week before. Gustavo was nervous about the rope climb because that’s one of his weaknesses. Thanks to all my aerial yoga practice, I love rope climb (well, except for coming down because I invariably burn my thighs every time). During practice, he had fallen from the rope climb and had a pretty big scare since it knocked the wind out of him. Fortunately, during the competition, he did even more reps than he expected and we got a total of 101!
The next day was brutal. I couldn’t sleep because my arms were throbbing from the slam ball carry and we had to leave, once again, at 6am. Also, for the sake of sharing in the hopes that one day more female athletes will share their experiences with this, I got my period halfway through the competition. (Seriously, I know all of those Goddess-dottirs have had to deal with this problem and I just want some advice!) For me, my energy and endurance goes way, way down at this time, which was pretty unfortunate. I typically get tired way more quickly and am in a lot of pain. On a positive note, all of the Advil I took helped mask the pain in my arms at least.
During the briefing on Sunday, I actually shed a few tears. All of the WODs required a ton of upper body/overhead strength, which is exactly where I felt weakest. I’m still trying to figure out the cause, but often I get a throbbing pain from my elbow that either radiates down to my wrists or up to my shoulders. When I woke up on Sunday, both of my arms were throbbing from my biceps and I knew the additional overhead exercises would only aggravate it even more. I visited WODHands, the group of physical therapists that our gym uses, about thirty times over the weekend, I think. I also credit them with having saved both of my arms during the competition, otherwise I’d be mimicking Venus de Milo over here.
Sunday was hard because we had a few different judges who, in my opinion, were sticklers unfairly. One of the hardest parts with judging in any crossfit competition is that some judges want everything to a T, even though some movements can be performed in various ways. Other judges actively look for problems, while others are extremely lax. And, finally, some judges are in between, looking to make sure you’re completing the movement while taking into account variations that may occur in different bodies.
On WOD 5, that’s exactly what happened to us. Rather than focusing on completely extending our arms on the clusters, the judge wanted us to essentially end in a snatch position with our heads pressed forward. In the end, we were three reps shy of the time cap after getting no rep’d four times.
The final two WODs, once again, went one into the other. We started off strong on the single unders because Gustavo is insanely fast at these. On the box jump overs, though, we slowed down quite a bit and were very tired when it came time for the synchronized shoulder to overheads. We only got eleven out of 40 reps here, but figured we could save it on the hang squat snatch.
I decided to play it safe knowing that snatch isn’t my strongest movement (SQUATS PLEASE) and that, being tired, I wouldn’t be able to hit what I normally hit. I ended up going with 25kg and 30kg as my two attempts (though my PR is 40kg), hitting both of them. Gustavo got 50kg easy but right after the judge said he was good to go, one of the organizers walked by and said that because Gustavo had stepped on the line, it couldn’t count. We were both so angry because had he simply been on a different side of the arena and/or had specified that rule in the beginning, we wouldn’t have had that problem. Honestly, I thought Gustavo was going to punch him at the time which would likely have put all the way out of the competition 😬
We ended at 43 out of 46 in our category, and fully completed four out of the seven WODs. All in all, we’re pretty happy. Our main goal was to not be dead last, which we weren’t, and to not get hurt, which we didn’t. I’ve seen a lot of people enter competitions with the idea in mind to win, a lot of “If I’m not going to place, I’m not going to sign up.” For us, that wasn’t the point. We knew we wouldn’t win, we knew we wouldn’t even be in the top 20, we knew we might not even finish the WODs. What we wanted to find out was how we stacked up, especially under pressure, so we could know our weaknesses, what we’re good at, what we need to work on, and how we handle an unpredictable, chaotic environment.
Personally, I was surprised. There’s a big trend in Brazil to do what they call aulão on the weekend, or one big class on Saturday morning instead of staffing various classes throughout the day. I always find them chaotic, without fail, and get overwhelmed to the extent that I often cannot complete the WOD. Once, after someone accidentally hit me in the face while we were doing sit ups, I got up, left, and started crying outside because my brain was just on overload and I knew I couldn’t focus on the movements themselves.
Here, in the competition, I found such a level of focus I didn’t know I had. I couldn’t see the timer. I couldn’t see who was next to me. I only remember one single song that was playing while we were out there — mostly because it was the song from Rocky and I had to pause to think “Yeah, Philly!” Otherwise, it was just me and the ball, or me and the box, or me and the bar. It was such a relief to find that this sport I’ve developed a passion for is a passion, so far, without any conditions. I love the practice, I love the challenge, I love teaching others, I love the rest, I love competing, and I love watching others compete.
Right now, it’s deload week for me. I took Monday completely off, which was helpful because my biceps are still aching and I couldn’t sleep. Today was some light strength work and some box jump over practice because it is such a weakness of mind and, indeed, I banged my shin into the edge on the box on the fourth minute of my ten-minute EMOM. Nevertheless, the practice continues.
My friend Debora – who just started doing crossfit! – took all of the photos. Thank you Debora!