As of now, we are on the down side of the Open. Three weeks down and only two more to go. My “leaderboarding” was no better this week, annoyingly I actually find it fun now. I’m not sure that will ever change. Anyway, being three weeks in and the majority of the open over I have noticed something among the athletes. By week three, the leaderboard seems to even out. This year especially, where the first three workouts were so incredibly different and catered to three very different athlete types, by the end of week three the athletes atop the leaderboards are undeniably the most all around and consistent. It always amazes me how well crossfit seems to work itself out like that as we see the familiar names closer and closer to the top each week and ultimately sitting at the top by the end of week 5. What I have noticed though, is that week 3 – midway through this five week event – seems to be the make or break week. This is the time when the athletes see the light at the end of the “open tunnel” and they understand that they will only be able to leaderboard shuffle two more times before real live regional cuts are made.
Make or break week affects everyone in some way. Some athletes are sitting comfortably at the top after three tests and know they just need to finish in a consistent manner. Some have used these three weeks to “play leapfrog” as they hop tons of spots each week in pursuit of that “front page” of the leaderboard. Others feel they have underachieved and have not met their expectations and they begin to get discouraged with only two more tests left. And still others have been quietly consistent each week and know they must continue that in order to make it to the next level. I talked about surviving and advancing last week and that idea still applies. However, I really feel that week three is when athletes are made or broken, physically and mentally. Here they are either made hungrier and more willing then ever to perform their best and lay it all out there, or they are broken by mental and physical disappointment and are finding it hard to see the light. Of course, I encourage every athlete reading this to let week three MAKE you. Let it make you hungry, inspired, pissed off, willing to fight hard. After week 1, I explained to necessity of trusting in the system and I think as important as it is in week 1, it is even more crucial now in the dead center of the “hell weeks”. By trusting in our system and our abilities we can find the need and want to finish this thing with the same excitement and drive we started it with. Let week three make you a warrior.
When this workout was announced, I reacted like I do every time a workout is announced. I try not to get too high or too low on it because I know neither is good for me as an athlete. I can tell you I was more satisfied with the movement combination than I was last week. I would have been very excited about the introduction of box jumps into this open, however after looking at the workout closely I realized the box jumps had very little to do with producing a good score. Deadlifts aren’t a movement I get excited about, yet when done at high rep and fairly heavy load they are actually one of my stronger points. What I was pretty excited about was the fact that we were handed a ladder (workout with increasing weights of a movement). I knew this would work in my favor because it would give me an advantage on the workout as I could handle the loads nicely. I spent the weekend in New York working at The Outlaw Way camp at Crossfit Lindy with my coach and some of my teammates. During camp, coach discussed “strategy” and the best ways to attack this workout. Specifically, we assessed and tested (using a timer and heart rate monitor) the different methods of “box jumps”. We ultimately decided on the step up, drop down method as that seemed to be just as fast as rebounding box jumps yet kept heart rate a lot lower. We also spent a good amount of time talking about how to limit transition time while loading the bar. This helped tremendously and was a big factor in the success of my workout as well as my teammates and many of the campers. For me, I felt like I was cruising through this workout until the 205# bar. When I got there, it began to hurt and I could no longer move as fast as I wanted to. However, I knew I was able to just hang on and push through it until those 8 minutes were up. I completed 167 reps in those eight minutes – clearing the 205# bar and getting 7 box jumps before time ran out. That score was good enough for 21st in the region. This helped my overall standing, pushing me up to 20th in the Mid Atlantic region.
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We are 10 days into March. March is my favorite month out of the year, it always has been. (Yes… ahead of my birthday month – October, and ahead of Jesus’ birthday month as well.) The weather is getting warmer – kind of, but most importantly… it’s college basketball playoff season. In my opinion, no other sporting event compares. Teams you have never heard of come out of the woodwork with spectacular plays and wins and the strong favorites all year start to really showcase why they have been sitting at the top for the regular season. Survive and advance is the motto for every basketball player across the country in March. Ironically, now that I am no longer a basketball player but an exerciser for time, March is still a very important month in my season. For us, March is a qualifying month. It is our first opportunity to display and compare our abilities against our competitors. It is in fact, a “survive and advance” situation, as every week presents a new challenge. If you don’t survive the open, you don’t advance.
At this point, I’m almost already sick of the whole leaderboard thing. The app was the worst thing invented, and my brain that loves numbers and equations has a field day with all the equation opportunities that the leaderboard so stressfully provides for 3.5 days out of the week. To be honest, its really not just my leaderboard and where I stand – I’m constantly watching almost every region and every person I know in every region. I felt like Monday ended and Thursday happened right away. There were not enough relaxing days in between there for me. I need more. I have a coach that kind of knows the sport a little.. I guess, and he warned me two days into the Open to stay away from the leaderboard. I promise I am really trying, but it is just so hard for me. Maybe I’m just a rookie and really don’t know better. Maybe my number crunching gift takes over… but I really have to learn how to control it. I need to be better in that aspect. I also need to be better in understanding that all I simply have to do is survive and advance. I am in hopes that writing this post will make it sink in a little more, and maybe help other athletes out there gain a similar mindset. I don’t need to win every single workout, or beat everyone I know I am capable of beating every single week. I just need to put my butt on the line, do what I can, and survive. Then I have to move on – next week, next workout. Another opportunity to crush something. That, for sure, is something that is going to come with experience in this sport.
I can’t lie, when this workout was released Thursday night, I was not thrilled. I knew it consisted of two movements that did not play into my strengths when combined. However, I immediately put that out of my mind because at that point I didn’t have a choice. It was like drawing a really tough team in the first round of the tournament. You can sit there and think about how tough the game is, or you can come up with a plan on how to win. The positive aspect of this workout for me was the built-in work to rest component. A lot of my training consists of work to rest ratios so I knew that I would be able to capitalize on that. Coincidentally, this workout followed the fun March theme of “survive and advance”, which put a fun spin on it for me. All you had to do was survive for 3 minutes, then you could advance to the next 3. Second week of March, survive and advance, clearly Castro is a basketball fan. Going into the workout, I knew I would break up the pullups up in small sets from the beginning and go unbroken on the overhead squats the entire time. I settled on the butterfly chest to bar in small sets and went in with confidence. However, I came out only 9 minutes later – ONE REP SHORT of advancing. I was not satisfied, I knew I could not be and I knew I would have to redo the workout to have a chance at surviving the open. After talking with coach, and revamping strategy, we came up with a plan that some of my other teammates had success at an I was able to attack the workout again this morning. Thankfully I survived, at least another 3 minutes longer this time which significantly increased my score to 179. That wasn’t my goal, but it would be decent on the leaderboard – good enough for 93rd in the region. This dropped my regional standing a few spots, so I am now sitting in 38th in the Mid Atlantic region. I survived a rough one, and focused on next week… I am advancing. We will talk again in 7 days.
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This month has been extremely busy for me and I have been unable to post much – for that, I apologize. I promise I will be posting Monday night, weekly, at least for the next five weeks. I now have a lot of people a few hundred miles away from me that have watched me grow and develop over the past year. If I feel like I owe it to anyone to get back to writing regularly, it is them. These past few weeks I have finally felt “settled” and calm, after a personal roller coaster year filled with total lows and total highs. Through it all however, I have tried to place as much trust in my ability to exercise, in the program I have been following, in my coach, and in my gut feelings. In all honesty, that doesn’t always come easy for me. I am a thinker – an over thinker most times – and I am always analyzing how I could or should be doing things different than how I am doing them. Obviously, in constant pursuit of perfect results.
Sometimes trusting in the system is the hardest thing to do – especially at this point in the CrossFit season. The Open has kicked off and all those nervous, questionable thoughts seem to rush in, no matter how prepared you know you are. Last year, I was never faced with all that seriousness because I had not been training with intentions of making any kind of run in the region. I had simply found a fun and competitive sport and was just happy to be there. This year, I feel like I have expectations to meet – from myself and others – expectations that I have been working hard to meet. I know as long as I trust in the system and my ability to work, things will take care of themselves. These Open workouts have a way of making people crazy. Although a very meaningful part of the season, as a rookie, I think I need to understand that loyalty and trust in the system as a whole is the most important thing. Coach K preached for four years about the great Coach John Wooden’s “pyramid of success” – and though I could never even remember half of it, I always remembered that at the center of the foundation was Loyalty – Be True To Yourself, Be True To Those You Lead And Those That Lead You. If all of us competitive exercisers can keep any piece of mind in the crazy Open season it NEEDS to be that. Trust and believe in the work you have done up until now and are continuing to do each week. Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.
14.1 Recap: I guess I have to do this, although I really don’t want to because I want to forget this workout as quickly as I am able to. I was obviously not around the sport in 2011, so this was my first experience with this piece. It is one of those workouts that looks pretty innocent, until you’re in the eye of the storm. 10 Minutes of light snatches and double unders really didn’t shake me up, but I knew those rounds were going to be fast – so there was going to be A LOT of them. Double unders are one of my more favored movements in competitive exercise and well, I snatch often. I knew the workout was going to be a straight test of lung capacity and basically a cardiovascular race of “who can go the longest without hitting a serious oxygen deficit”. I also knew that being one of the taller girls in the sport I had a lot more distance to cover with the barbell, so I would automatically need to be more efficient. I completed 358 reps of 14.1. That was two snatches shy of 8 full rounds. I feel like I executed my plan as best as I could. I was able to complete all my double unders unbroken and broke my snatches up beginning in the third round, as planned. I feel all of the heart rate and aerobic capacity work that coach implemented into my weekly programming this past month really helped me out in this workout. I didn’t seem to hit “the suck” as we like to call it, until about the 8 minute mark. At that point, I could already see the light at the end of the tunnel and it was not that difficult to just hold on. My execution was good enough for 25th in my region. Of course, as with anything, I have been replaying this silly workout over and over in my head thinking up places where I could make up time and gain more reps. This is where the trust comes in. I know this is only a small first step in my plans for this year. It is time to turn the page and get back to work – 14.2 is only days away.
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