Special thanks to Colin Achim for finding the courage to write about his experience with the 2014 games. May more of you are in the same boat. Post your experiences below to share with our community!
We find ourselves smack in the middle of the 2014 Crossfit Games Open with 14.4* still echoing in the background, and what a great time it has been so far! These are my first Games, and looking back now, I am kicking myself in the pants for not taking part in the last three years. It has truly been an awesome, eye-opening experience.
I had never signed up for a couple of reasons: First of all, have you seen Rich Froning? If you haven’t, go
Google him right now and then come back. When you put the two of us side by side, there is absolutely no contest as to who is going to win that race! As a general rule, I do not embark on endeavors where failure is an absolute certainty. How do you win against that guy? Look, I am a pretty decent golfer, but you don’t see me trying out for the U.S. Open to take on Tiger Woods, do you? Happily, I have since learned there is more than one way to win at the Games. Secondly, the thought of being filmed doing a workout and being broadcast on TV, even though it was just on local cable, didn’t really work for me.
So why did I eventually do it? Once again there were two main reasons: After some inquiry, I found out that you didn’t have to be on TV. You could come by after all the hoopla and do your WOD then. I figured I could just tuck myself into the background and see what happened. The second and main reason was that I just wanted to find a way to do a WOD on a Friday. I work till 5:00 pm, and I can never make the last 5:30 pm WOD on a Friday. I figured that twenty bucks for five Friday workouts was pretty cheap. With this brilliant logic in mind, I went online and paid my entry fee two weeks before the Games, and then promptly forgot all about it all.
I will confess that I did start getting jittery waiting to find out what 14.1 would bring as it got within two days of the announcement. What if it was something crazy like muscle ups? (Can I call 14.4 or what?) I can’t do muscle ups as yet! What do I do then? I don’t want to look like a flailing idiot, do I? Interestingly, all of these panicky thoughts were happening after I had convinced myself that I really didn’t care what happened. After all, I just wanted a Friday WOD, didn’t I? I could scale even though it wouldn’t count, couldn’t I? Well, apparently the competitive part of my brain kicked those thoughts firmly in the shins and booted them out on their collective behinds. And so, with bated breath I waited on the 14.1 announcement!
Why did it have to be double unders? All of the pent up excitement disappeared in a heartbeat as I read what 14.1 had in store for us. It’s not that I can’t do double unders; it’s just that I can’t string them together. Two weeks before 14.1 was the first time I had done double unders in a WOD. After much flapping around in the WOD, I finally got the knack of going single-double-single-double etc. While this worked, my wife had remarked that it was easily the most disturbingly ugly Crossfit movement that it had been her misfortune to witness to date. Bring on the trepidation.
At this point I was committed and I think I did what every single one of us does. I tried to calculate what I would score. Based on the ten minute AMRAP cap, I calculated could get two rounds in with my single-double-single-double movement. The light snatches didn’t concern me much as I had those down pat. And so, with a goal of 90 reps in mind, I went into 14.1!
Here is where my strategy went to pieces. My goal of tucking myself in the back during my heat didn’t pan out. Apparently this is a fairly common goal and I was not quick enough to claim one of the coveted “back spaces”, and so ended up right in front. This worked out well for my daughter who had come to cheer on Daddy, but did little for my nerves being front and center to the gathered crowd. Soon enough, I heard the “3, 2, 1 Go!” that we are all familiar with, and off we went. For me, the next ten minutes were a glorious epiphany!
There is something about bright lights and a bunch of people urging you on that pushes you beyond your preconceived limits, especially when one of those people is your child. I can still remember her shouting, “Go Daddy, Go!” These are probably the most motivational words that I have ever heard! I can remember finishing my second round and notching 90 reps and then looking at the clock. With utter amazement, I realized that I still had a fair amount of time left. I picked up that jump rope and went after round three! I almost made it. I was only ten snatches short. Mind you, I couldn’t breathe and spent the next ten minutes recovering, but they were ten fantastic minutes. I had beaten my goal! The other equally astounding thing was that people I barely knew were coming up to me and giving me congratulatory high fives and fist bumps. It was utterly humbling and awesome at the same time. I will never forget those moments.
14.2, 14.3 and 14.4 brought more of the same. With 14.2 it was chest to bars. I had never accomplished one before and so, my number going in was ten reps. I actually got fourteen! I got my first four chest to bars. Another awesome result for me personally! 14.3 brought much dread with the dead lifts. Four weeks prior, I had had a small back injury at 205 pounds doing dead lifts. That was my PR. The thought of the third round with 225 pound dead lifts frankly, scared the crap out of me. Again, there is something about the Games that pushes you to excel. I made it through those third round dead lifts and got four box jumps in before time ran out. I still am not sure how I did that, but I will take it. 14.4 brought fifty toes to bar. Did I read that correctly, fifty? I mean, really? My first toes to bar had only come about 5 weeks prior. I had managed to string together six as a record. I looked at that fifty and hoped that I could get halfway through. Through the remarkable push given to me by me judge and the guys in the crowd, including my wife, I got to 28, once more exceeding my goal. I took that 28 and ran all the way to the bank!
It was not just me. Just about every person that I spoke to, for whom this was their first Games, accomplished something extraordinary. For some it was a PR with a lift, for others it was getting a motion for the first time, and for others still, it was posting a score that they never thought possible! Whatever it was, there was such an air of utter jubilation that it was then that I finally understood what the Open is all about. It is not about beating Rich Froning; it is about beating your demons. It is about experiencing success and having the people in your Crossfit community cheer and share in that success with you. It is about cheering and sharing in their success. It is about the human spirit and where it can take us. If you can experience any of those things then you have won something far more valuable than a trophy. I am now a true believer.
If you have never taken part in the Games, I don’t think you can fully embrace the sheer scintillation of it all until you do. All I can say is that you should sign up at your first opportunity! At the very least, come on out and cheer. You won’t regret it. I cannot believe that I have missed three Games since becoming a Crossfitter.
Bring on 14.5!