Category: Crossfit Games


Three years!! That’s right, three years ago I entered my first Crossfit Games Open and every year like most people I have great expectations that I will make it into the top 100 for my age group. Some have loftier expectations however most people after doing workout number one just want to survive and not be the last person on the leaderboard.
There is no shame in being last on the board, you at least entered and finished. If CF has over 1 million members worldwide and only 200K have entered then you have beat 800K other people who just need the confidence that it does not matter where you finish. My reason for entering is to measure myself against people my own age as at my box I am the second oldest person and between John and myself, we have no one to compare against except people who are at least 15 years younger than us. We get smoked when there are speed workouts and most time we use the same weights as them. Don’t get me wrong it makes us both feel good when we beat them.

This years open for me was a baseline for me to measure against as I wanted to improve my range of motion, get body parts healed that needed it and improve my nutrition. I have spent time getting certifications, getting books and journals to better understand how the body works. In the last 3 months I have spent many hours managing my mobility, fixing up muscles that have been injured, and working on different skills. In another few months I should be in good enough shape to start the next step, working on improving strength.

I will have to wait for Wednesday to see what my final placing will be and then I can sit back and watch the pro’s go at it in the coming months. Next month I will be attempting my level one certification to better understand what is required for crossfit movements and then the following month it is the Kettlebell Certification. Should be lots of fun.

BTW – how did any of you do?

The Crossfit Games Open workouts are not even completed and I am looking forward to next years events. The reason is I have goals, not wishes, for improvement at this sport. Goals are what is going to keep me on track with my progress not wishing I could do it.
My plan started late in 2013 was to get more mobility and range of motion. Other than the usual stuff we did at the box for mobility I had nothing else to go with and basically asked lots of questions on what I needed to do. The owners directed me to the Mobility WOD site and I took it from there.
I got the chiro to get the big things fixed and give me a check-up every now and then when all the bugs came back. This all brought positive change to my posture and even with my focus on ROM and mobility I did not lose that much strength, maintaining around 90%-95% without doing too much heavy weights so I could heal. This was when I made a connection that ROM, mobility and technique have a greater influence on my ability than just trying to lift heavy.

I have no real goals for this year’s open other than to have a score for all the workouts that are posted and have them as my benchmark for 2015. I have incorporated running and pool work to give a change of pace to constantly being at the box. Included in these are now scheduled rest/mobility days a much overlooked part of a workout. If you have to ask why, you have not got it yet.
The next part of this plan was the diet I have and how that needed to change to facilitate my goal. I need to lose 25-30 pounds for this plan to work. I am too heavy for the bodyweight workouts, I get a good sweat going but I move like a walrus on land. I have bought a freezer and have started prepping and measuring food quantities while reducing the amount of bad carbs I take in. Bread is my weakness and I must find a Paleo/Low carb version to have on hand for those weak moments and finally the last and key part of any loss of weight attempt is the drinking of water. I have failed miserably at this for the simple fact I do not like water in bottles. The water at my house is fantastically clear and clean as it is from a well and I could drink that all day unfortunately I have to work and city water sucks.
I will give the tale fo the tape as of March 24th – weight 219, BP 128/81, resting HR at 56 and sitting in 806th place out of 1016 competitors in the Mens Masters 55-59 dvision and while writing this I have managed to sip almost 500ml of water. It’s a start!
Have fun, enjoy life and good luck to all the competitors who are excellent, good and normal.

It’s always nice to revisit the past and while most people pull out old pictures and the like, most Crossfitters do workouts from the past.
Today was one of those days and as per the usual ritual at our box before the official Open workouts we have one day per week that we do last years workouts. This year it is every Friday for the next 5 weeks, last year it was on a Wednesday.
13.1 for those who don’t know, don’t remember or care to remember was a 17 minute couplet of burpees and snatches.
40 burpees to a 6″ target above your hands when your arms are over head, then 30 snatches(75/45/45), 30 burpees, 30 snatches(135/75/75), 20 burpees, 30 snatches(165/100/75), 10 burpees and finally as many reps as possible of snatches(210/120/120) – the numbers in brackets indicating the weights for men, women and masters men divisions(which is my division) and your score is the total number of reps you complete. Last year my score was 139.
I did not know how I would do this time around. I had slept in, 2 hours longer than usual, and almost was late for work, did not have my usual breakfast, thank goodness for the magic bullet I have in my desk at work and was able to whip up something healthy to scarf down before 10am. Thinking about the workout I thought of how I did last year and where I could have possibly made up some reps and had a plan.

The plan – “Don’t go out fast as I suck at burpees and that will kill me and don’t waste time on the light weight snatches.”

It worked! I may have been the last finishing the burpees but I finished the snatches second(another member beat me by a few reps). I did the first round of snatches in set of 15, 10, and 5, then back at the burpees. By the time it was over I had completed the 20 burpees and was changing the weights to 100lb when the 17 minute cap was reached. Total score was 150 beating my last one by 11 reps.

Maybe I am finally realizing what I have to do to improve, which is mobilize, and take “REAL” active rest days that focus on skills and technique. I have had a number of setbacks in 2013, have not worked on any real aerobic type stuff and I still beat my score from last year. I have changed only 2 things, diet and mobilization, nothing else and yet I beat my score from last year. Can you tell I am ecstatic with this improvement! This bodes well for me in the future and now I have to stick to the plan. Next week will be 13.2 and that one was a triplet of shoulder to overhead, deadlifts and box jumps.

Let see how that blast from the past works out.
Now I have to figure out this weight loss part maybe the diet part will start working in a few more weeks.

Remember to stick to the plan.

I found this out the hard way. It was not until I started to think on how I got to where I am today. I did the small things to improve, it was not like all of a sudden I was able to deadlift 300+ pounds. I did it through small incremental steps working on the small details, foot position, grip, body position, back straight, lift shoulders first, etc. I was barely able to lift 140lbs without my back bending when I started three years back.
Thinking back to those days I also started to think on how to improve myself by the time I turn 60. I want to be able to, no need to do toes to bar, pullups, thrusters, burpees, and all the basic movements required to do well in the Crossfit Games Open competition.
I found out today that I still suck at thrusters and have not attempted toes to bar in over 6 months because I feared what it would do to my healing shoulder. That does not bode well for me at this years Open events, however I am not concerned as I have written off doing well this year. I am now focused on small things to improve my abilities. I have started mobility work and figured out I must include some volume work on mobility days.
This means I need to do more reps at moderate weight and build up the speed of the reps as that is what counts when one competes during the Open phase of the Crossfit Games. More reps equates to higher placement in the standings. You can be the strongest person in the world but if you cannot do lots of reps, literally you are fucked as this is to fnd the fittest not the strongest – they have a competition for those individuals.
Now it looks like 75 and 95 pounds are going to be my friends for the next little while and once they get comfortable, add some weight and do it all over again.
Yuppers it is going to be a fun year.

Another year has gone by and even though the end result was the same, not going to the Crossfit Games, I improved.

While the result was not what I wanted, I need to put this in perspective. I missed 3 months due to an injury and was told I would not be able to start lifting weight by my doctor for 6 to 12 months. After coming back to the gym and basically starting at square one, I set new PR’s before the games and improved on the workout that was done last you to sort of benchmark progress from one year to the next. Take that Doc Doom, my name for my family doctor, as he always tells me I should not be doing these extreme workouts at my age. I also dropped 12 pounds from diet improvement and working out more intelligently. That is, knowing when to scale back, when to add some weights, listen to my body, and listen to my coaches when they inform me what is best for me to get where I want to.

Here are some takeaways from this year:
1) Have a plan – you will not achieve anything if there is no plan. Hoping to be better is not a plan.
2) Follow the Crossfit methodology – work on your weaknesses wishing they never come up in the Open until you are looking forward to having them appear, then work on another weakness.
3) I need to improve my mobility – my range of motion is better than last year but not where it should be to achieve good results
4) Improve my endurance – I should not be gassed after 30 wallballs, 30 burpees, 20 box jumps or lifting a weight more than 20 times – that is just not acceptable if I want to improve
5) Be serious – unless I am serious about improving don’t bother. Crossfit Workouts are great by themselves if you are doing nothing but wanting to improve your fitness level and enjoy normal living.
6) Watch more videos. Of myself and others, you never know what you are doing wrong if you cannot see it. Coaches can always tell you what you are doing wrong but if you dont see what they are talking about you will fall back on the same problem. Looking at the best, Rich Froning, Samantha Briggs, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, Annie Thorisdottir, and others do workouts help provide a visual to what pace, techniques, form and small triggers that help them be at that level.
7) Ignore comparing yourself to others at the gym. This does not mean I will be aloof, but I am 25 or more years older than 90% of the gym, comparing their performance to mine would be constantly demoralizing.
8) Keep detailed notes of your workouts – I slacked off with this and that is unacceptable. How do I know what I did and how I felt that day. Was I stressed? Did I get a good sleep? Did I miss a meal?
9) Rest days are important. Don’t do a workout, some stretching, mobility and watching those videos and spending some face time with your coaches going over the videos for pointers would be more effective than doing WOD’s poorly.
10) Technique and form are first and foremost what should be worked on. If you lift light weights, air squat or jump poorly you will fail miserably once you add weight any of these movements.
11) Be accountable – don’t cut short your workout. If you lose track of what rep you are at starting counting from the last rep you know you did. If you don’t like doing more reps improve your mind!

I did not know how to start this recap as initially I was pleased with my score. Then I started to see other scores and started to feel a bit down. Games 13.2 was a nasty one, one of those workouts that just suck the life out of you due to the movements involved. Shoulder to Overhead, Deadlifts with the same bar and then box jumps.

Box jumps are the killer as I figured and I went in with a plan. I needed one as I am not the best jumper, I fit in to the category of “mature white men can’t jump” and proceeded to do step ups after round one. Yes, I know that jumping up is faster, I also know that for me step ups would be the most efficient and would get me my best score. What I did not know was that the shoulder to overhead would cause me to slow down more than I wanted. Who knew that 95 lbs could be so heavy after 4 rounds? Those lifts cost me valuable time and after reviewing the video of my WOD, I may have been able to put in another full round if I was able to lift a bit quicker.

All in all, 6 rounds plus 3, I cannot complain too much. I did expect more from myself and earlier today I felt like shit as I was thinking about how incredibly slow I moved. I started thinking, what am I doing? You’re 57 and you are moving so slowly, do you think you are seeing any gains in this? When are you going to either get serious or just be a box member?

Yes I had some doubts about my ability, but I know deep down that I can do it better and compete. I did it when I was smaller and had to play Junior hockey against people who were 50lbs heavier and 8+ years older. I did it when I played on the mini Pro Bowlers Tour and my U.S. counterparts had years of experience on me. But I made it and I will do the same in Crossfit.

When I posted my mini confidence meltdown on Facebook it was the Crossfit community that replied and said I did awesome and not to get down on myself, they were the ones who told me the next one will be better and that it is only workout 2 of 5. It is at that point that you remember why you do this and even if you are not Rich Froning Jr, Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet, Annie Sakomoto, or any of the other top competitors you are doing your best to get there, they appreciate the work you put in and most importantly your boxmates know you have busted your ass that day for the best score you could get.

I did find out some things during this workout and as they say punish your weaknesses, mine was stamina. I have none and need to figure out what I need to do to improve that part.
Until 13.3 comes out I will look at different ways to make myself better. I am not satisfied with this year’s showing.

Well, Mr. Castro, thanks for keeping things simple for most of us. I say that now since I have not done 13.2 yet. Watching Annie Thorisdottir kick this squarely between the … she made this look so easy and Lindsay Valenzuela is no slouch for lifting.
After watching these two go at it, I started thinking how would I attack this and what would be 1) a great score for me 2) a good score and 3) what is my weakest link in this triplet.
Lets start with point 3, the weakest link, as that will help me achieve points 1 and 2. Normally I would say that lifting overhead at this point would it, due to shoulder injury, but it is only 5 reps and anything goes for getting it overhead, but my box jumps are horrid. They have no pace, I am unbalanced when I land, my quads are burning after 20 or so, the list is exhaustive.
The question is how to I make these tolerable to achieve point 1.
Today I was at our box to go through the motions and plan a bit of a strategy, if there is on after 4 rounds. I found that I can make the best use of my time with step ups jumping up takes too much time which I cannot afford at my level. I also calculated that an optimum score for me would be 9 rounds or a score of 270 which means I have to complete every round in roughly 1:07 seconds. A possibility for the first few rounds, as my practice round was completed in 1:01, and my wife called one no rep. But I am no greyhound except for the grey part.
That leaves a small margin of error to get to 270 and it was amazing to hear one of our coaches killed this with a score of 309, that is friggin’ awesome.

Lets recap – 270 means a killer pace for me of 1:07 and a good score would be 240 which is a solid pace of 1:15 for each round with a bit of recoup between box jumps and shoulder to overhead.
The one thing to remember is that there is no rest point in this one except moving from Box to Bar and vice versa and that is not much.
God how I wish I was a gymnast on this one.

I’ll let you know how it turns out Friday night.

Some may have thought I was dead, comatose, seriously injured or abducted by aliens as I have not written anything for a while.

Really I had not much to say and until recently was focused on a lot of other personal things that took a lot of my time.

Now… I am back.

A quick recap. I have moved into town as the one hour drive was killing the pocketbook on fuel. I have been going to physiotherapy for a while to help keep shoulder tendonitis in check and will probably do the same for my elbows. Have changed eating habits as we have started to follow a stricter Paleo Diet regiment and have entered into the fray again for the Crossfit Games, which is why I started writing this blog in the first place.

Crossfit Games WOD 13.1 is in the books and I thought last year’s first workout was crappy. This year I looked forward to it as I figured I was in better shape even though I missed 3 months from the beginning of July to the end of September due to injury. I have slowly improved and watched mostly my form/technique during workouts to avoid what happened in the summer. I then worked on some conditioning when I came back, I did 2 or 3 workouts in a week instead of 4 or 5, days I did not do a workout I did lots of sprint rowing, sprint running, burpees, situps and squats to build some endurance. These small things helped, slow return, form conscious, endurance and stretching. I may not be a mobile as some younger people but I am better than yesterday and that is a Crossfit motto.

13.1 – if that did not make people gasp when it was announced it was because they were to stunned to even take a breath. AMRAP 17 mins – 40 burpees to a 6 inch target, 30 snatches, 30 burpees, 30 snatches, 20 burpees, 30 snatches, 10 burpees, AMRAP Snatches. The snatch weights for normal mortals mens/ladies in ascending order was 75/45, 135/75, 165/100, 210/120 the mature group of mortals (+55 years) followed the weights for mortal women.
I was prepared for something like this, I figured it would have been AMRAP 10 mins of squats or something similar. I was a bit happy as 13.1 included one of my favourite movements the snatch. For some reason I like this movement and can do it fairly well with my relatively novice weightlifting skills. I went in with a plan, keep moving, as my goals were different from most of our box as I am the only Master’s group competitor at our box. I knew I could snatch up to 100 lbs and my goal was to get to that weight and see where I placed as I figured it would at least be a better start than last year.

Looking back, I did what I wanted even though I was a bit short, 11 burpees, of what I set for myself. I managed to keep moving and did not waste as much time as I did last year. That was the good part. The bad part, I did not hit the 100 pound snatch level which is not much to get upset about.

So bring on 13.2 and all the surprises that comes with it, I may not like it but I’ll be ready.

I also want to take a moment to say what fantastic performance my wife did during this workout. She managed only 18 burpees however according to doctors she should not even be doing what she does as she has had two complete hip replacements, not resurfacing but replacements, and one revision due to an infection. Falling to the ground, getting back up and jumping six inches up off the ground are not recommended movements for people who have had this surgery, yet she was determined to do so without assistance. her goal was to complete one and be on the leaderboard for the Games and she did more than that. She was so pumped up you would have thought she won the event and now cannot wait til next week.

This goes to show that Crossfit is for everyone but not everyone is for Crossfit. If you don’t believe me find a location do one or two workouts and make a decision.

It looks like I am managing the return to the gym rather well, I must say (said in  an Ed Grimsley voice).  No pain, no stiffness in the shoulder just plain old tired muscles from lack of use for 2 months.

I have decided to be more realistic in my approach this time. The 2012 Crossfit Games basically informed me that I need to be in a hell of a lot better shape than I think I was, so a new approach was required. Going over what I lacked was easy, everything! figuring out what I should really work on was even easier, endurance. Throughout all the workouts or whatever else I did, I seemed to be gasping for air at some point. After 2 rounds of most AMRAP’s at the gym and it was star-seeing time. If I want to improve on something it was more cardio/aerobic work.

Enter Crossfit Endurance and a simple 6 week plan to improve endurance. After two weeks, today was the first noticeable improvement in my performance. I have modified the plan slightly to accommodate areas that had some previous issues(Achilles tendon) and that meant cutting down the running and replacing some of it with rowing. I am doing these workouts on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The first week I did 10 x 200M sprint rows on Tuesday and Thursday added 25 alternating oblique twists with 8lb ball from a v-sit position(that was not pleasant). This week it is 5 x 200m sprint row and 5 x 200M run with Thursday adding 20 burpees to the mix.

These days are not to include any olympic style lifting it is just for cardio and endurance. Just doing it for three days and I was not gassed after 2 rounds of a 15 min AMRAP today, in fact I felt pretty good until the arm got so tired I basically could not hold the weights any longer.

We shall see what happens next but so far it is encouraging.

Reflections

Long time, no post. With that I decided to do some reflecting on what the past 12 -18 months have done for me.

Since February 22nd I have been focusing on the Crossfit Games. I knew that I would not be in the anywhere near the top but I had to see where I stood and what had to change in order for me to reach the ultimate goal. That was accomplished in a big and humiliating way with my 304th place finish. Some events I did okay and some I just could not complete. That’s life. Time to make note and improve. At least I finished and I am happy with that.

On completion of the my participation in the 2012 Games, I looked back at where I was one year ago. The person I was one year ago would not have finished, was 25 pounds heavier and did not have the skills to do some of the workouts. This makes me know that I am on the right course. I am much better than I was one year ago but the competition is too, need to step it up even more.

Another reflection – I am more conscious of my eating habits and food choices since embarking on the road to better health so much so that I will be looking to get certified as a sport nutritionist. This is another win for me and my family as the family will benefit since I am the head chef and grocery shopper in the household. They just don’t and won’t realize it.

I have come to the conclusion that nothing is handed to you and it will involve pain if you have not done any sort of fitness regimen for over 10 years. It would probably be less time but that is how long I did not do exercise. I feel less pain and generally have not been as ill as long as some people have these past two winters. I think it is because I am doing exercise and bugs(cold/flu) like weak systems and exercise does not make you weak.

When I now think back on the last year, I have done pretty good and will only do better against myself as that is the only thing I can control and measure against. It will be tougher next year as more people compete in the Crossfit Games and that will only make me better.