I’ve been doing this CrossFit thing for about 15 months or so and, it's rapidly become my sport. But, although I’ve considered myself to be an RX athlete for a little while now, the weekend of the Mount Team Nationals was my first real “CrossFit” competition.
I’d been to watch a few comps before, including Battle of the Fittest, Crossfit Tour, Regionals in Australia and even the Crossfit Games, but finally it was my turn to have a go. So of course, I had to turn my engineering brain on to help a bit with the planning and logistics for weekend ahead.......
I wrote out a list of the WOD’s, the start times and the movements. I then added what I was going to be eating, at what time and the equipment/clothing I will be wearing for each WOD. The priority being optimal performance and then recovery.
Arrived at the ASB and was pleased to see Darren and the team almost as soon as I walked in the door. We watched the briefing and come up with a plan for WOD 1. I did my best to keep my heart rate low during the day so that I didn’t waste any unnecessary energy. Staying relaxed, listening to music or my audio books helped with this.
WOD 1: Row 500m, 15 Thrusters (60/40kg), 10 CTB. Whole team.
I did a fantastic job of staying relaxed up until I was waiting for my turn on the rower and I felt my heart rate spike........
Hopped on the rower and went too fast of course, it took Darren’s expert advice in my ear to get me to dial the last 50m back even further, and mentally prepare for what was next.
My legs were a little wobbly (nothing new for a crossfitter haha), a little bit shaky on the first few thrusters, I wanted to put the bar down at 10 but seeing Ox and Darren go unbroken was possibly the best motivation I could have had to do the same. Muscled the pullups out, tagged my team mate and was happy my bit was over and I could cheer for my team.
WOD 4: 21-15-9 Deadlifts (100/75) & TTB. Partner to hold while other one works. Jo & Arama.
This was a forearm burner, so Jo and I made a plan of what we were going to do. Warmed up to a few reps at 120kg (so the 100kg feels lighter) and did a few TTB. I was a little apprehensive about this WOD as I know Jo is a machine and a multiple regionals competitor, but I also know I have deadlifted 100kg for high reps before, so reminded myself it was just the nerves.
I did my 20 Deadlifts, we shook out our arms picked up the bar, then Jo did her 21 (this was the plan to save our forearms). On to the TTB the plan was to possibly break at 11 or 12 but they felt so easy that I just kept going till 21. My partner being awesome as she is PR’d her TTB as well, and the rest of the workout was over in a flash. We finished the WOD pretty clear of most other teams, and later found out we got first in this workout. I’m not naïve enough to think that this was because of me. Credit goes to my boss team mate Jo. She slayed it up for us!
WOD 5: KB toss, Long Jump & 100m sprint. Whole team.
Unfortunately I hurt/pulled my groin/adductor warming up my long jump. I managed to get through this event but it was significant enough to give me serious concerns about my ability to perform for the rest of the competition.
I didn’t sleep very well as my groin was giving me a bit of grief during the night and the pain fluctuated up and down.
The next day my injury meant that my mind was filled with a lot of self-doubt (not ideal for any athlete or competitor). My friend Rewi offered me some advice which I called upon a few times that day. That it does not serve me to believe that something bad will happen (ie. I’d sustain a much more serious injury) and that I should live in the moment. Please note I am not saying that you should train through injury or you should stubbornly stay in a comp even though you maybe injured. But just that you shouldn’t just give up on it just like that and you maybe able to find a way to work around it. If it was a fraction worse, I would have made the smart decision, and not continued.
WOD 6: 100m sprint with 20kg weight and then a 2km beach run. Whole team.
The plan was to wear my INOV-8, but I got some advice from one of the scaled athletes who had gone before us, to wear no shoes as you spend half your time running away from the waves. This turned out to be the perfect advice, as 200m into the 2km run I was chuckling in my head at a lady in shoes who was running away from the water while my Pukeko mud grips (ie. bare feet haha) were happily trundling through the waves. I managed to pass around 5-10 people in the last second including a last ditch dive to nab the peg almost out of some poor guy’s hand. Every rep/second counts
WOD 7: 100 wall walks, 200 skips with fat rope, 300 wall balls rotating. 3 Males.
This was the WOD I was the most scared about since hurting my groin. I’d been flossing my adductors/groin (haha that sounds far too rude) for much of the morning and was really struggling with pain in trying to get to the bottom of a squat even when doing it slowly. Daz, Ox and I made a plan for the workout which accommodated my injury concerns. I didn’t want to jump/ski[ as the impact didn’t feel good on my leg so Ox and Daz agreed to carry the load on the skips and do them all. The wall walks transitions were the key and minimising time between those would mean we would get off those as quick as possible.
The WOD started and there was an element of self-doubt there, but as we got deeper and deeper into the workout I felt more and more confident. Once we got to 80 wall walks Daz put out the call to pick up the pace, Ox and obliged accordingly and loved it. On the skips a couple of miscommunications cost us a little bit of time when we messed up but we were still the first off them and into the wall balls. Daz told us to relax once we started and we got into a great rhythm and started smashing them out. Because I didn’t have to skip it meant I could wear my lifters which made getting into the bottom of the squat easier. We ended up with 231 wall balls but it felt like we could have done 500 we were that comfortable. Once my groin warmed up the pain seemed to subside a little so that coupled with “competition mode” meant I didn’t feel it very often until we finished.
Moments before the final it was announced that we were to be going up against Crossfit Mana. Multiple winners of crossfit team competitions including this here at the Mount Games.
FINAL WOD: MFMFMF head to head. Race to 7 wins. 10 Deadlifts (150/115), 10 dHSPU (2x20kg plates) and 2 Squat Snatches (or Power snatch + OHS) 75/55.
Looking across and seeing AJ (multiple regionals level competitor and just a massive man) and the Mana team who had pretty much won every event was a little intimidating to be honest. Especially when they announced the loads.
Seeing Darren almost take that first win changed my thinking from just wanting to save face to a hint of possibly being able to take the win. Jo was a boss and won her race. Then Ox had a great race against AJ. Morg’s carved up the HSPU’s like I knew she would and then hit those squat snatches like a pro. Then it was my turn. The score is 2-2 at this point and I thought we could be here for a while.
Nowhere to hide, no team mates to do this for you, it’s up to you to do your bit. We started on the deadlifts and if there was one thing I knew was that I wasn’t putting that bad boy down until I’d done 10 reps. I noticed out of the corner of my eye that I finished them before my opponent as I headed for the HSPU’s. I was pretty confident I could do 10 of these as I had hit a PR of 6 strict dHSPU earlier that week. Turns out I needed to do 11 as I got no repped haha No sense arguing with the judge, it won’t achieve anything and I have no time for that.
Now on to the scariest part, the snatches. In my attempt to make sure I got it above my head I almost lost it behind me but I think bit of up north mongrel/brute strength saved me. Stabilised and then hit the OHS without a problem. The second snatch I got it up a bit easier and then when I stood up the OHS and went to walk across the line I was no repped. I panicked a touch and ran back to the bar, Daz came in and told me to relax and that I had time. I hit the snatch fairly comfortably; the OHS took a bit more work. I learnt that lesson quickly and looked at the judge before dropping the bar to make sure I got the rep. the score 3-2 to the NZ OG’s.
Krista did an awesome effort on her dealifts and then getting to the snatches and as such beating her opponent. The score was 4-2.
Round 2. Daz put in another awesome effort but got pipped at the line again. Score 4-3. Jo did what she does and hit up another win. Score 5-3. Ox had an even better showing in his second match against AJ but unfortunately went down. Score 5-4. Morgs put on another show like a pro and notched up another win for our team. Score was 6-4.
The game is in my hands! Standing there at the start line seeing all the excited faces of my friends and team mates my confidence grew. I wasn’t putting those deadlifts down until I had done 10, I wasn’t stopping the HSPU’s until I had done 10 and those snatches were going to end up above my head.
Hit the first snatch, down to the bottom of the squat and then stand it up again. Look at the judge to make sure it was a rep and then drop the bar. Deep breath, brace and rip that bad boy off the ground again. This felt like the easiest snatch of them all but the OHS seemed like the hardest. I was fighting for position all the way down and all the way up again. Looked at the judge. He called it a rep. Dropped the bar and over the line. Jump around like an idiot and scream “$3000 f**ken dollars” to my team mates haha. We did it. We won. In my first real crossfit competition I was lucky enough to be a part of an awesome team who together came away with the Mount Games 2014 National Title.
SO what did I learn from my experience in this competition.
- Believe in yourself. This is something that I try to apply in other parts of my life, but re-learnt over the weekend of the crossfit comp following my injury. It does not serve you in any way shape or form to have a negative perception/belief in yourself. So why not have a good perception and believe in yourself? One of my favourite sayings is “you can never be better than your own perception of yourself”, so why not make it a good one. This is not to be confused with arrogance. You can still have a great perception of yourself and be humble in your life
- Always have a plan for what you are going to be doing. This applies to the macro and micro scale. Whether it is your recovery sessions, your eating, your sleeping, your strategy for the WOD’s or even what you’re going to wear. It doesn’t have to be written down or formalised, just have one and execute.
- Despite having the best laid plans you still need to be able to change the plan if or when appropriate eg. On WOD 4 if I stuck to my original plan and broke up my TTB then we would have likely had a slower time. The same goes with my plan to wear shoes on the beach WOD 6.
- Trust your programming. Darren Ellis does an amazing job on this for us and the proof is in the pudding of his 6 athletes including himself who performed consistently in the competition to eventually come away with the win.
- Sleep. We’ve all heard this so many times but about 1.5 weeks before The Mount competition my friend and all round beast Gerald told me about some research on NCAA basketball athletes and sleep. Grossly simplified and paraphrased to the hilt, the ones who were made to sleep 10 hours a day (compared to the control of their normal 8 hours a day) improved significantly more than the control group. This resonated with me and for the first time since I started crossfit I slept for about 8 hours a night for 5 of the 7 nights leading up to the Mount Games. Needless to say I felt awesome and strong come game day.
- Nutrition. Eat well and you will give yourself the opportunity to perform at your peak. This is a work big in progress for me but I felt the difference when each time I stepped up for a WOD and I knew I was well fuelled for it.
- Learn. From yourself and from others. Some of the best tips, tricks, hints etc that we gathered in making our plans were from watching other people do the WOD’s and talking to them about it.
- One thing I want to share is something I learnt from my friend Amanda and that is to live in the moment. She doesn’t know that I learnt this from her (guess she does now haha) but I find it to be relevant in both crossfit and life (the latter being a work on for me). Currently she is in the final stages of completing her degree and understandably is under quite a bit of pressure and maybe even a little stressed. But when you see her at RCF09, you wouldn’t know any of that was going on, as she is living in that moment. In the context of competition there is no sense concerning yourself with what “might” or “may” happen in the next WOD, later, tomorrow or tonight. If you’re preparing for or about to start a workout or WOD, then that is where your attention should be. Darren Ellis reminded me of this learning prior to us starting WOD 7 when I got a little carried away thinking about the final. Enjoy your current moment in time, because it will never come again.
- SMILE & Be happy! Make no mistake happiness is a choice. There are only events, actions and moments in time. The way we interpret these become the way we feel. Whoops got a little off topic there but it’s my story and I’m allowed haha.
Thank you to our superstar team of Darren, Ox, Joelene, Krista and Morgan. Ya’ll Beasts!! Last but not least a thank you to everyone who supported our team and myself. I am very grateful for the generosity you showed us in your unflinching cheering, support and words of encouragement while we were competing.
Nga Mihi, Arama
Deadlift + Hang Power Clean + Front Squat
EM x 10
5 Power Cleans (10 Russian Swings)
10 Lateral Jumps
EM x 10, add weight every 2 sets
5 Squat Cleans @ 60-70% of best single.