Its been a week now since the Crossfit Games ended and I thought it would be a good time to put down some final thoughts on this years competition. I apologize in advance for possibly going a little long on this account.
As expected the workouts got tougher from last year and progressively through the Open to the Qualifier and on to the Games. Making it to the Games is a long process. For me it gets serious in the fall with preparation to compete in local events like the Confederation Cup, Winter Challenge, Ice Breaker, and several others I did as well. These competitions dial you in as an athlete to your competitive spirit, and help you learn how to better function under pressure. I would encourage everyone to get involved in a local competition, there are so many now that you can find something for every level.
By January I am getting focused on preparation for the Open and the 5 weeks of workouts. I normally will do each one twice and almost always improve my score on the second attempt. This year I’d enjoyed my best ever Open with a 2nd place overall in my 60+ division. There were over 1000 men seeking those top 200 spots for the Qualifier and I was happy to do so well there. Next came the Masters Qualifier and the 5 workouts over 5 days to determine the top 20 in the world. I stayed on track and finished in 3rd place earning my trip back to compete in LA.
The two months between the Qualifier and the Games is filled with high volume training. I sat down with my coaches, Dave Kitchen and Chris Schaalo and discussed what I felt were my weaknesses and strengths. From that discussion a series of workouts were designed to help me prepare and I would do these on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. I would workout in the morning on my specific areas of weakness and then return in the evening to train with the sport group or do the workout of the day. Three times a week I added in running workouts, 1 track session on Tuesday, 1 hill climb session on Thursday and 1 longer run on Sunday. Overall I was doing 12 different workouts a week. I tried to take Thursday as a rest day but I did notice at one point that I’d gone 18 days in a row without a full rest day. Fortunately I’d just retired from my job so I had more time to train and also to recover between sessions.
Throughout all of this I do my best to maintain a good diet. I eat organic foods, have a protein shake to start every day, and make enough to have a second one later as a recovery drink after my evening workout. I try to eat every few hours, never getting really hungry and never feel too full. Of course there are extras included in the plan such as my love of ice cream and red wine. The good news is I was burning so many calories I could eat whatever I wanted and was still losing body fat.
One of the most amazing things that happened for me this year was the incredible outpouring of support from the Crossfit community. Dave had organized a fundraising effort and through it enough money was raised to cover all of my expenses to go to LA to compete. And with the exchange rate the extra money raised past the target amount was so well received.
Heading to the Games is very exciting and check in day feels quite surreal. After flying to LA on the Sunday morning, then getting the rental car and driving to the host hotel you can start to feel overwhelmed. You walk through the procedures and they load you up with clothes and equipment and all the time you’re doing this you are surrounded by this collection of incredibly fit people. Then it’s off to the grocery store to stock up on healthy foods and finally check into the hotel.
Monday was time for the athletes and coaches first briefing. We registered and were walked through the facilities and given a general overview of what would happen. Every morning there would be a briefing at 7:00 AM that was mandatory and would be the time when the workouts were presented and movement standards described.
I had my daughter, Casey, there as my coach and she did an incredible job for me. It was the first time I’d had a dedicated coach with me and what a difference it made in my overall stress level having someone keep track of where I needed to be when, to time my warm ups and keep me on track and to discuss rep schemes and details of every workout. I am so grateful to her for doing that for me.
The competition days go by in a blur but I was better focused and disciplined than I’d been in my two previous trips to the Games. Between events I made sure I spent at least 30 minutes working on mobility before starting my next warm up and it paid off. While I certainly got tired and experienced some muscle soreness, there was nothing that made me worry about any injury impacting my performance.
I felt I had a plan for every workout and while some plans turned out to be better than others I knew I’d given my all in every workout. There were certainly some amazing moments, like the first time we walked out onto the Soccer field and heard your name announced or running past the jumbotron screen and looking down at the soccer stadium. There was a moment in the Double Hanger workout where I’d completed the first set of 50 double unders and 7 hang clean & jerks and had run out to move my marker piece to show I was starting the next round. I noticed I was alone and I did laugh to myself because of my long struggle with skipping that I was leading a skipping based workout. You have to smile and enjoy the moment.
It was so amazing to be in that environment and to hear familiar voices calling out encouragement. Sharon, Sue-Ann, Sarah, Sam, Pete, Phyliss, Pat and Sarah, along with Casey and Seth, I’m forever grateful for the support you gave me there.
After 6 events I was delighted to make it into the final workout. This was going to be held in the Tennis stadium and all the finalists were taken in there and addressed by Dave Castro to find out what the final workout would be. When he said it would be Amanda and for the first time at the Games the men’s 60+ division would be doing muscle ups I was thrilled. I’d been hoping for overhead squats and to get them and muscle ups I felt would be good for me. My confidence grew in the warm up area when I saw some of my fellow competitors struggling to do a muscle up and battling for the necessary depth for their squats. Casey confirmed with me that I was doing both movements correctly so I felt good.
Being introduced and running down the stairs into the Tennis stadium was incredible. I was excited but ready. At the sound of the buzzer it all began and I completed my first 3 muscle ups and knew I could do this workout. After my first set of squat snatches I knew I was leading and with the crowd behind me and the announcer describing my lead I felt I could win it. Jumping onto the podium and winning my first ever event at the Crossfit Games was such an amazing experience. It was an incredible finish to my best ever performance at the Games.
In the end I fell short of my goal of reaching the podium but with identical points with Stephen Angrove and a tie for fifth place I was very happy with what I’d accomplished.
It takes a huge amount of effort to get to the Games and none of it happens in a vacuum. I am so grateful to the coaching I’ve received for years at CFNV, to Dave for creating the kind of gym that embraces all levels of athleticism, for all of the incredible athletes that I get to train with all the time who push me to be better, for the fantastic support the wonderful members of our community gave to me, for Casey for being there when I needed her.