Battling through the thrusters in the first round
Lines wrapping all the way around the Civic Center from 1:30-4:00.
Rory starting the last Open announcement
Today didn’t feel real. I think it was actually a CrossFit dream that I can’t shake myself out of. It was filled with mystical characters that only exist on youtube and on covers of magazines and all over ESPN. Being included in the action of the 13.5 announcement made me realize what I had been missing out on by just watching it on my computer screen, anticipating what this week would possibly have in store for us.
The second day in Santa Cruz started early, as I woke up and went on a run. Got to know the area a little bit, then went straight to the gym where I did a workout Sam programmed for me to do with some running and DB man-makers. It was brutal, but I liked how focused I felt. Being away from the business of Los Angeles and into the relaxed vacation feeling I felt a focused independence I hadn’t had in a training session in a while.
After getting ready, I headed to the restaurant where I had lunch with a bunch of people that were also staying at our hotel. Sam, her coach, and a few friends of CF media were hanging out. Sam mentioned not being used to “all the hype” around CrossFit that there was today. Back in London, this isn’t the everyday, big deal it is here in the States. Then Castro showed up with some of the main events. Khalipa and… Hmmm I don’t know if you’ve heard of him… but how about the fittest man on Earth? First time I had ever met Rich Froning Jr. Shaking hands with someone you’ve only seen on TV or online… or from the top of bleachers at the Games…. was pretty surreal!
Instantly I was trying to soak everything in! Every comment, every mention of names, every reference to training or eating. I was laughing most the time because Khalipa was being funny, asking Castro, “what the freakin workout was” all lunch. I can imagine it’s more the suspense than anything that would drive you crazy. Froning was staying with him and they had trained with eachother non-stop, which reminded me of how Neal and Khalipa are so close and Rich and Bailey are such close training partners. Usually, I’m story after story girl, but not today. I was Andrea-good-listener. At one point Khalipa even asked, “So… what’s going on with you?” Quickest way I could turn the attention off me because I felt so unworthy was…”Oh nothin… coaching classes, training…nothin.” THAT was my answer. Shy-Andrea rarely comes out, but man she took over today, and she is a weirdo. Dave Lipson was planning his hotel workout which was, “50 DB man-makers for time, all out: No warm-up.” lol
After lunch I walked outside to have a really good conversation with CJ Martin. One of the most well-known programmers in our sport, he was up from San Diego, helping coach Camille. Feeling pressured to take notes during our conversation it was so good, I got to hear his take on each Open workout. Swapping strategies and talking about athletes and online programming, I was interested in his low-volume style of work-load. Next, the anticipation was building up as we were about to leave to watch the show!
Showing up to the Civic Center felt like we were at a Harry Potter movie premier! People were stacked in thick lines circling the entire block! A thick sea of CrossFit boxes, Nano shoes, board shorts, bright LuLulemon. It was a lot o fit people in one area, that’s for sure! As we snuck into the VIP door, (yes, still part of the dream) I met my roommate for a spot next to the stage in the front row. They had a hand stand holding competition that Maddy won! The whole time our gymnast phenom was narrating the competition and what their stance was like and that they were shakey, and that she needed to breathe, cause she was going to outlast all of them! She did, and won a pair of Nanos… not too bad, doing something as easy for her as sitting in a chair. Maybe for our team-effort I’ll get to wear them once or twice 😉
Miranda, Rory, and Dave came out for the announcement dressed in suits! When they announced the workout of thrusters and chest to bar pullups, they added a twist that would make it almost impossible to make it past the first round for anyone. The four minute rounds having to do Chest to Bar Fran each time, staying consistent and making it to the next level “if you were good enough” reminded me of a video game. OH! Good job, you made it to the next level by sprinting, now you have to keep working out for 4 minutes.
Camille Leblanc-Bazinet and Sam Briggs went first, and set the bar HIGH. With 5 inch different heights, different body types, and totally different strengths in CrossFit, it was a battle to prove who was the toughest. Camille’s butterfly pullups were astonishingly fast, and went all of the first 6 rounds totally unbroken of 15 pullups. Sam ended up being 5 pullups short of making it to the 3rd round, as she cheered on Camille through her third round.
When the boys finally went, there was so much hype and energy! They came out wearing eachother’s shirts, and were anxious to start. The first two rounds they were identically matched up, rep for rep. For Khalipa’s size, you could tell he was trying to stay with him on the chest to bar pullups, it was impressive! I swear I’m going to lose my voice from yelling and cheering from inches away. When Froning barely finished the second round, and made it into the 12 minute bracket as Khalipa didn’t finish, we all knew he’d be on his own for the next four minutes, which wasn’t an easy task. Seeing these athletes give it their all was so motivational! My favorite part about watching really good athletes in any sport compete, is they always make it look so smooth, graceful, easy. At one point I thought…”oh ok… he’s starting to break it all up… So i he’s feeling this way at… 10 minutes. I’ll probably feel that same way at about… 6 minutes!”
When Rory Mckernan (2011-12 Update show host)and Boz (head Games judge, L1 trainer) did the workout after the show, it put it all into perspective. These are both pretty descent athletes that score pretty high in their region, and both tried really hard to push past that first four minute barrier, and couldn’t. My guess is that 95% of the people in the Open will have a 4 minute amrap in front of them, and they’re counting on a sprint of a first round.
We hung out with fans for a while, that was really fun talking to the local CrossFitters. At the hotel was a fun dinner party around the pool that I hung around and visited at for a few hours. Having to get up early, I ended up leaving so I could write it all down so I wouldn’t forget what today was like!
My big take-away: What did I realize from this experience? That you have to start somewhere. Everyone’s starting point is completely different, as we’re all have such unique lives and training leading up to our first day in a CrossFit box. Being at this level is just a continuation of that beginner feeling. Since none of us are perfect athletes, and none are invincible, the training expands, but no one feels they’re near the end of the road. Emphasis on enjoying every piece of the lime light, while knowing it all reflects on the long hours training in the gym.