1. Talk about getting out of my comfort zone.

    Let me back up a minute…

    Several years ago, I came across a website called The Listserve.  The concept of the website was intriguing:  You enter your email address, and then once a day, they randomly select one “winner”, who then gets to send an email to the rest of the group.  Their tagline ambitiously reads:

     If you had the chance to speak to a million people, what would you say?

    Kind of cool, right?

    So, I sign up.  Its May 14, 2013, and there are 21,419 other members.  My odds are sweet!  Just kidding, I have no clue how to calculate my odds of being selected in a daily lottery with a presumably growing number of other contestants.  And I have absolutely no idea what I would say if I did win.
    Actually, that is not entirely true.  Exactly one week after signing up, and ever the conniver, I emailed a friend: 

    My gameplan:  post a very short 1 paragraph funny story (something that happened to me, or sort of happened to me) or possibly a brief top ten list of some sort.  Then, link to my [now defunct Crossfit] blog.  Finally, full T&A sig line with website link.  Now I just need to win the lottery!

    (Little did I know that The Listserve actually has some rules about what you can and cannot send…)

    Two weeks later, after reading the daily emails as they poured in, I emailed back the same friend: 

    I hope I never get picked.

    Over the next several years, I read relatively few of the incoming emails.  Some of them were pretty clever, but the majority were fairly dull-- motivational life tips, religious commentary, mundane personal stories, etc.

    Occasionally, if the subject line was interesting, I would read the email, and my internal dialogue would go something like this:

    Holy crap, what if I get picked?  What would I write?  (strains brain for 45 seconds and then assures self that there is no way I would ever be picked.)  But, maybe I should unsubscribe, just to be sure…

    Then, out of the blue, while minding my business on a lovely Labor Day weekend, I get the following blood-chilling email: 

    Hey there, you’ve been chosen to write to the rest of The Listserve. You have 48 hours to respond…

    After 14 minutes of sheer panic, I finally pulled myself together long enough to spring into action.  I forward the “You’ve won” email to my friend along with my initial thoughts and strategy.  It read in full:  “Oh dear god!!!!”  With that kind of sophisticated facility with the written word, what was I ever afraid of?

    The next thing I notice, is that there are, in fact, rules to the Listserve: “No links, images, HTML, Javascript, etc”  Just text.  And self-promotion is strongly frowned upon.

    Uh, so much for my oh-so-clever idea to use this as a vehicle to pimp my law firm. (I mean if just 1 out of 22,000 is a potential client… right?  Speaking of which, contrary to the Listserve’s own self-promotion, in the 1,210 days since I initially signed up, the List only grew by about 800 people, so still roughly 978,000 shy of the one million person goal)

    And just 48 hours to write it???  That’s just plain mean.

    So, I spent some time trying to think of some ideas of what I could write, and really struggled.  This was hard.  I mean, do I really have anything to say?  Do I really want to do this?  But something about this challenged me in a way that made me not want to back down.  Humor is a big part of my life and I got the overwhelming sensation that if I didn't give it a shot, I would regret it

    In short, this one time I didn’t want to do what I normally do in uncomfortable situations:  wimp out.

    So I came up with a couple of idea, and started writing.  I figured if it didn’t work, I’d try one of the other ideas.  But, it took me so long to come up with my original draft, I really didn’t have any time left to try another idea.  And, scared as I was, I did kind of liked what I had written.

    So, with great doubt and genuine fear (I was using my real name for crying out loud!!), I sent it in.

    They warn you that the email won’t go out immediately, but the next 7 days were agonizing.  At one point I desperately wanted to send in an edit to delete part of what I wrote.  (Why did I include that line about seeing the cops plant evidence??!!  I was totally kidding about that!  But that’s not funny.  I’m gonna get called out.   Spoiler alert:  I did get called out.)  Also, as the days passed, I started freaking out that they would happen to publish my goofball email on 9/11. That would not be a good look.  

    On 9/13/16, I, along with 22,200 some odd other people, received my email. 

    Almost immediate, the replies started coming in.  They were wonderful, and hilarious, and kind, and random, and oh so generous.

    22 people took the time to send me feedback on my email-- a legit-ass 0.1% responsiveness rate : ) 

    In short, people thought it was funny, and that made me feel really, really good.  It was super hard to put myself out there to the masses, but so unbelievably rewarding to so.   Here were the comments:

    Oh, and what was my post?  It can be found HERE.


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  3. Watch Coach Amy help me improve my clean form.  My main issues right now are:  (1) extending hard from the hips with arms straight (the "yank"), (2) moving the elbows quickly under the bar, and (3) getting my elbows high into a good front rack position.  Watching yourself on video is a huge help-- thanks Coach Amy!

    Crossfit DoneRight Video Instruction-- Clean Practice

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  4. Last Friday was my three year anniversary of joining Crossfit. Its been a wild ride with tons of exhilarating highs and soul-crushing defeats. I thought it would be fun to try to list my 10 best Crossfit moments over the past 3 years. (My next blog, covering the lowlights, promises to be more entertaining. Stay tuned for: “My Pants, They Don’t Fit”… coming soon).

    10.  9/22/2010 Defying Gravity

    34" Box Jump

    This was a fun one. In this video, I do a 34” box jump. This actually isn’t too impressive of a jump, but for some reason, in the video it looks kind of badass. Normally, the only people who comment on my Crossfit pictures and videos are other Crossfitters. But for this video, I had tons of non-Crossfit people come up to me for weeks afterwards asking me about the video: Could I now dunk a basketball? Was I born on Krypton? If I missed, wouldn’t I have broken both shins? Including the 11 times I watched it while writing this blog, the video has gotten 160 views. That’s pretty funny!

    9.  4/29/11 Surpassing The Glory Of My Youth

    In high school and college, I did the typical globo gym weight training, where bench presses, lat pulldowns, and bicep curls (often in the squat rack) were the go-to exercises.  Unlike today’s enlightened Crossfitters who use Fran as a benchmark, in those days, the Bench Press was what people used to judge each other’s worth.  Back then, I may have done 205 once as an all-time high, but I know for sure that I never came close to doing 225.  To do that, you had to put two big 45 pounds plates on each side of the bar, and I would always get bitter when other people could do that.  Well, I hadn’t done a legit free-weight bench press in at least 10 years, when Justin finally installed some at Crossfit DoneRight.  The first time we used them, I was able to work up to 235 pounds.  2 plates plus!  I was gleeful. 

    This is what I looked back in my bench pressing days: 

    8.  11/7/10  Shaving 10 Minutes Off My 5K Time

    On 11/1/09, 5 months before joining Crossfit, I “ran” in the Rockville 5K and scored a time of 43:50.  Obviously not good, but a fair reflection of my fitness level at the time.  The next year, less than 7 months after joining Crossfit, I ran the race again.  My time was 33:37, more than 10 minutes faster.  My training was almost exclusively with Crossfit, with no more than 2 or 3 runs over that time outside of our normal Crossfit routine.  While my overall time was still not very good, the improvement was outstanding.  Crossfit works.

    7.  7/9/12:  “Conquering” Fran   

    Fran is a three round workout with 21 Thrusters (at 95lbs) and 21 Pull-Ups, followed by 15 of each in the second round, and finally 9 of each in the last round.  A Thruster is a Front Squat ending with pressing the barbell over your head.

    Fran is the benchmark workout of all Crossfit workouts.  Its almost cliché to ask a Crossfitter what his or her Fran time is, but its still the way Crossfitters of all shapes and sizes describe their level of fitness.  A beginner would be around 12 minutes, whereas the ultra-elite will be under 3 minutes.

    Well, I had been Crossfitting for over 2 years, and I had no official Fran time.  I had done it many times, but never at the full weight or without assistance bands on the Pull-Ups.  It took me 10 months to get my first unassisted Pull-Up, and Fran requires 45 of them. 

    Finally getting a fully prescribed Fran score was a huge accomplishment for me.  My time was 13:40 which won’t inspire Reebok to name a shoe after me, but it still felt great.  Honorable mention for this spot also goes to my “Weighted Fran,” which I did on my fortieth birthday, 10/3/12.  Fran with with a 15 pound weight vest in 19:36.  

    6. 4/6/13 Beating Almost 15,000 Dudes In A Workout  

    This was quite simply the best workout performance of my life.  It was the last event in this year’s Crossfit Open--  Workout 13.5.  A 4 minute workout where you have to alternate between 15 Thrusters at 100-lbs and 15 Chest to Bar Pull-Ups (like a normal Pull-Up, but your chest has to actually touch the bar).

    In a similar workout in the previous year’s Open, I was able to manage 9 Thrusters and 5 Chest to Bar Pull-Ups for a total score of 14 reps in seven minutes.  This year, in just 4 minutes, I was able to do 30 Thrusters and 20 Chest to Bar Pull-Ups for a total score of 50.  I ended up 31,880 of 46,236 men who competed in this event, which was by far my best showing out of the 10 Open events over the past 2 years, and likely better than any other workout I’ve ever done.

    5.  5/30/11:  Paying Some Respect

    The “Murph” workout is a Memorial Day tribute in honor of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., who was killed in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005:  1 mile run, 100 Pull-Ups, 200 Pushups, 300 Squats, 1 mile run.

    From the Crossfit Mainsite:  "This workout was one of Mike's favorites and he'd named it ‘Body Armor’.  From here on it will be referred to as "Murph" in honor of the focused warrior and great American who wanted nothing more in life than to serve this great country and the beautiful people who make it what it is."  There is now a feature documentary on 
    Lieutenant Murphy’s life: http://www.murphmovie.com/ 

    This grueling Hero Workout took me 87:40 to grind through.  Easily the longest and most painful workout of my life, it was truly an honor and privilege to be able to show my appreciation for our military heroes, many of whom are my friends and teammates at Crossfit DoneRight.  It was absolutely amazing to watch them slice through this workout, in 90+ degree heat, in fatigues, boots, and weigh vests.  Many of them did it in under half the time it took me to do it.  I was proud just to be a part of it.

    4.  3/24/2012:  Hanging With The Big Boys (Barely)  

    After 5 frightful weeks, I was able to achieve my goal of performing all 5 workouts as prescribed—i.e without scaling down the weights or movements-- in the 2012 Crossfit Open.  This was a huge goal of mine, and required endless scheming and plotting to survive it.  I somehow made it through, finishing only 21,584 spots behind the fittest man in the world, Rich Froning.  My full tale is told here. 

    3. 9/17/2011 Crushing Fight Gone Bad 6 

    Fight Gone Bad is a particularly brutal 17-minute workout that, up until last year, was a national Crossfit event to raise money for military, law enforcement, and other first responders.  (Fight Gone Bad explained)  I had trained very hard for the previous year’s competition, FGB 5, and was able to participate at the prescribed weights used for the Women’s competition.  (which is no joke—seriously).  As I summarized in an email to my supporters and donors afterwards “I was able to somehow gut it out, not die, and set a personal best score— It was an incredible moment for me.” I also raised over $1,100 for our team.

    The next year, I was determined to move up to the full men's weights and also to nearly double the amount of money raised.  Again I trained hard for it, and afterwards, here is how I summarized the event:  “It truly was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  I trained for this thing like nobody’s business!  In July, I went on a strict Paleo diet—complete with daily food log and penalties for cheating.  In the two months prior to the Fight, I lost 22 pounds.  I think I only missed 2 weekday Crossfit classes over those 8 weeks.  On game day, I ended up crushing my previous best by 36 reps, for a total score of 234.  That was even higher than the score I got last year using the lighter weights.  Hitting that number after training so hard left me with an amazing feeling of pride and accomplishment.   

    Our team of 51 competitors at Crossfit DoneRight raised $16,409 dollars for three amazing charities, placing us 14th nationally out of nearly 900 participating Crossfit affiliates.  I ended up being the #1 fundraiser at our gym, with a total of $2,054.  That is serious money for some really important programs.” 

    2.  4/21/2011: Setting A New Gym Record… For 12 Hours

    This was one of the most bizarre experiences of my life.  It was the 6am class on a random Thursday morning.  The workout that day was to attempt to set a 1 rep max for the strict press.  (While standing, press the barbell from your shoulders to overhead without using your legs).  Three months earlier I had set my personal best with a successful lift at 160 pounds.

    So, that morning I worked my way up to 155 and then was able to set a 5 pound personal record at 165.  It felt really good, so I attempted another lift at 175, and got it.  This was now a huge 15 pound PR and I was thrilled and ready to call it a day.  The press is not like a back squat or a deadlift where you can just keep adding 10 pound weights to each side, upping the weight by 20 pounds until you miss.  The margin between making a lift and missing is razor thin, and usually PRs are set by adding 5 pounds to the bar, not 10 or 20.

    Well, I thought the lift at 175 was damn heavy, but Justin and others who were watching insisted that it “looked easy” and that I should add 10 more pounds and go for 185.  Well, that was pure madness.  Not only was it a ridiculous 25 lbs more than my previous PR, but it would have tied our all-time gym record, set by super-cyborg Ben F, the baddest man in our gym.  I remember thinking that I might have had a chance at 180, but that 185 was crazy-talk.  Again, 5 pounds might not sound like a lot, but in a heavy press, it’s a ton.

    Not wanting to do the lift, I remember asking Gabe some stupid question about where to grip my hands, just to stall for time.  I still remember that ridiculous look he gave me as he said:  “Whatever you just did… do that again.”  Well, somehow 185 also went up, but this time nobody pretended that it looked easy.  It was one of those crazy slow motion ones that almost gets stuck halfway.  Holy crap!  I just tied the gym record!  I just tied Ben F!  What the hell just happened?

    So now I’m really done, and I am high-fiving people while mentally composing my “I just tied the gym record” email to everybody I know.  Then, I notice somebody adding more weight to the bar.  What the..what??!!

    I honestly don’t remember a single thing about the 190 pound press that broke the gym record, but I clearly remember sitting at work a few hours later in a panic that I had somehow added up the weight wrong.   At one point I had fully convinced myself that I had accidentally used the lighter barbell and thus was off by 10 pounds.  But then I remembered all the witnesses and realized that I had, in fact, made a freakish 30lbs press PR, and pressed more weight than anybody else in our gym had done before.  It felt completely awesome, and I didn’t feel it even slightly diminished when Ben F. rolled up to the 6pm class that night and reclaimed his gym record at 195.

    Here is a picture of me doing a muscle up.

    Oh, wait, that’s Ben F, my bad…

    1.  1/21/11:  Getting My First Pull-Up

    You wouldn’t think that getting one Pull-Up would hold a candle to setting a gym record or crushing a 17 minute workout after 2 months of intense training— but this was easily #1 for me.  It was the very first thing I thought of when I decided to write this blog post.   Maybe it was my best Crossfit moment because it was my first Crossfit moment-- I’m not sure.  All I know is that I wanted that damn Pull-Up more than anything.  And it took me 10 months to get it.

    When I first started Crossfit that previous April, I couldn’t even use the assistance bands, I had to do ring rows.  Then, I started with THREE assistance bands— a large and two mediums—3 ¾ total inches of assistance.  (I’m not kidding, on 5/19/10 I did a modified version of “Helen” with all three bands and it still took me 13:08 to finish)

    Month after month I watched all the other athletes seemingly doing everything in the gym, and I still struggled with virtually everything… but the Pull-Ups were the worst.  They are such a basic Crossfit movement that we saw them all the time.  Pull-Ups really punish you for being overweight— a condition I was already miserable about-- and it didn’t help my confidence any that I was so inflexible and out of shape that I still needed the coaches to help me step into the bands.

    So, like any duly-obsessed Crossfitter, I started staying after class and working on them.  Even as I lost weight and improved, and got down to needing just one large assistance band, it didn’t seem like actually doing one unassisted would ever be possible.  I could get halfway, but not past that.  Not even close.  More months passed.

    Then, one day, I could actually do one with just the medium 1” band.  Finally, a breakthrough!  I figured several more weeks I would be down to the smallest ½ band, and then a few weeks after that, maybe I’d be there.  Three days later, I did this:

    It was an unbelievable rush of exhilaration.  After 10 months of being amazed by others in the gym, I had finally amazed myself.  


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  5. Participating in the 2012 Crossfit Open was one of my most exciting and rewarding experiences as a Crossfitter. You might ask why somebody who scales most of his workouts and still frequently finishes dead last in many workouts would have even entered the Open, much less had an amazing experience with it. 

    I can tell you this, it certainly wasn’t my idea. Justin really wanted everybody in the gym to sign up, and my 6am homies seemed to think it was a great idea. It’s a good thing that I have always excelled at buckling to peer pressure or the world may have been denied another 4,000 word Crossfit blog. Truth is, I’m not really sure why I decided to do it. CFDR has been a huge part of my life for the last several years, and if my friends and supporters were saying I should do it, well, I guess I wanted to give it a try. 

    I still didn’t think it was a good idea. I paid a little attention to the prior year’s Open, and I was pretty sure I wouldn’t actually be able to even do most of the events. And even if I could, I was pretty sure I didn’t really care if I was the 89,001st or 89,002nd fittest non-Masters man in the Mid-Atlantic region. I was wrong on both counts. 

    As the event approached, I went through the full spectrum of emotions ranging from Very Scared to Extremely Very Scared. After signing up and publicly committing to it, I quickly become fixated on the goal of trying to complete every workout RX and at least getting a non-zero score for each of the five events. And believe me, there were tons of things that would have done me in—rope climbs, pistols, moderately heavy O-lifts, deadlifts of any kind (I had recently hurt my back and was avoiding deadlifts like the plague), and many others.

    But the 6am crew insisted that they would help me get through them, and that I’d be able to handle all the workouts thrown at us. They did, and I did. 

    So, here’s how it went down…

    WOD 12.1: Seven Minute AMRAP of Burpees (touching 6 inches above your head)

     (A full description of the 2012 Open workouts can be found here: http://games.crossfit.com/content/open-workouts)

    Leading up to the first workout, I was praying for something that might play to one of my strengths:  How about a nice one rep max push press? A heavy back squat? A doughnut eating contest?  My first thought when they announced Wod 12.1 as a pure 7 minute AMRAP of literally my worst movement, burpees, was “ARE YOU %*&^ING KIDDING ME???!!!!” (Indeed, this was actually my Facebook status update at the time). My second though was: “Please, please, please let Justin be coaching the 6am class tomorrow morning so that I can kick him in the nuts for getting me roped into this nightmare.” 

    I’m not going to lie, I never got that steely, world be damned, gimme your best punch resolve that Riva probably gets when he’s about to snatch 3 times his own body weight. I remained absolutely petrified from the moment the burpee wod was announced until time was called after those 7 long-ass minutes.

    The funny thing was, we all knew that there was no actual reason to be scared (my cardiologist notwithstanding), because what did it really matter what place I finished in? It wasn’t going to affect my job, how much my kids love me, or even my immediate goal of doing each Open wod RX. So why so scary? The 6am crew and I were in full agreement-- it just was. 

    Okay, I’ve built the drama up enough.  So did I school Froning in the Burpee wod?  Not quite, but I did crank out a lot more burpees than I thought I could, scoring 65 in the 7 minutes. I remember being incredibly pumped just to get through it, and with my score. I don’t remember saying it, but that night, Justin posted: "I think the coolest thing I heard all day at the open WOD was David Tanenholz when he said ‘I probably have the lowest score here, but I'm the happiest person. I did way better than I thought I could have.’" See below for picture of my post-burpee glee (with Kelly who also did the burpees). 

    35,108 men performed Wod 12.1 that week, and my 65 reps ranked 33,642nd. Hardly herculean, but in Crossfit, every rep counts, and by knocking out that last burpee, it helped me sneak past 202 other competitors. 

    Just for comparison’s sake, the worldwide Men’s leaders for Wod 12.1 were Scott Panchick and Danilla Shokhin with 161. Click here for a sick video of Danilla’s performance. http://games.crossfit.com/judge/47943 

    Other scores of Interest: 

    Open 12.1AthleteScore
    World Wide Men's LeadersScott Panchik/Danilla Shokhin161
    Worldwide Women's LeaderKristin Clever143
    Need for MidAtl. Top 60 (Mens)127
    Top CFDR WomanJara119
    Top CFDR ManRob118
    Need for MidAtl. Top 60 (Womens)113
    David T.65

    WOD 12.2: Ten Minute Snatch Ladder. 30 Reps 75 lbs, then 30 reps 135 lbs, then 30 reps 165 lbs, then as many as possible at 210 lbs (can only use one bar, must change your own weights) 

    Houston, we have a problem. When this wod was announced, my 1 rep max snatch was only 125 (and that was pretty dicey). Hitting at least one at 135 would be critical here. Virtually every non-injured man in the competition could hit 30 reps at 75lbs (it was literally only a few dozen who didn’t), whereas, ultimately almost 5,000 men would tie with exactly 30 reps. These were all the dudes (like me) with 1RMs between 75lbs and 135lbs. 

    Again, deviating from my initial goal of just performing the wods RX, I now desperately wanted to hit at least one at 135 to get that huge separation from the pack. People at lesser gyms and with friends of the non-amazing variety may have just rolled up to the wod hoping to hit a 1RM miracle during the event. Me? I had Amy B. yank me out of a 6am class so she could record me working up to the 135 snatch. After using video playback to coach me through a new 1RM, she declared me ready to go. Here’s the actual video she made that day:  


    Obviously quite shaky (and not Olympic caliber), but thanks to Amy’s coaching, I was pretty confident I would be able to get at least one rep at 135 during the wod. 

    For most of these Open wods, the gym did them as a group on the Saturday after they were announced. This was actually one of the coolest parts of the whole experience. It was set up like a real competition with different heats, spectators, and an official counter/judge for each athlete. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make it for the full session that upcoming Saturday, so Amy agreed to judge me the next morning during our Friday class.

    As expected, I was able to work through the first 30 reps at 75lbs without a problem (in about 2 ½ minutes), and was even able to change the weight up to 135 without committing a fatal bar math error. However, much to my dismay, I missed my first lift at 135, and then the next, and then the next. By the 5th miss, I was in full blown panic. I couldn’t believe I wasn’t going to get a single one. 

    Somehow, in between no-repping me like a madwomen (none were close), Amy was able to calm me down, and talk me through sticking my first one. Completely relieved and now playing with house money, I was somehow able to knock our 3 more successful lifts in between god-knows-how-many more misses. Final score, 34.

    This ended up being my best event, ranking 24,433rd out of the 31,346 men who participated in this wod. My final rep was good to move me up 358 places. Anybody who skips any of the 5 Open wods is automatically eliminated from the overall leaderboard, so roughly 4,000 men dropped out of the standings after completing Wod 12.1, leaving my overall ranking as 30,212 of 31,346.

    Somewhat hilariously, while performing the instructional video announcing this wod, Rich Froning very casually hits 98 reps, setting the worldwide highest men’s score. (Video is at the Week 2 Tab here: http://games.crossfit.com/content/open-workouts)

    Open 12.2AthleteScore
    Worldwide Women's LeaderAnnie Thorisdottir109
    World Wide Men's LeadersRich Froning98
    Need for MidAtl. Top 60 (Womens)85
    Need for MidAtl. Top 60 (Mens)79
    Top CFDR ManRob69
    Top CFDR WomanMaddy67
    David T.34

    (The women’s weights were #45, #75, #100, and #120.)

    WOD 12.3:  Eighteen minute AMRAP of 15 Box jumps (24" box), 12 Push press (115 pounds); 9 Toes-to-bar

    This one was a mixed-bag for me. Push press is one of my best movements, and 115 is a weight I can handle well, and would presumably cause problems for a bunch of folks above me in the standings. I’m below average at 24” inch box jumps, but knocking out sets of 15 singles over a long AMRAP wasn’t anything for me to panic about. The problem for me on this one was the toes-to-bar.

    I had recently “gotten” TTB (which was good), but I was as likely to miss one as to make one, and I certainly couldn’t string multiple together (not so good). I remember being kind of bummed on this one because I thought the TTB would slow me down so much, they would basically cancel out my push press. But that was nit-picking, because here was the third workout of the five, and it was going to be another one that I could do RX. 

    Having practiced the TTB during the week, I was pretty sure I could get through the first round, but was seriously worried that during the second round, my shoulders and core would burn out, and I wouldn’t be able to make it back to the third round where I could score on box jumps and push presses. The morning of the event, the gym was packed. After stretching out, I went over to the pull-up bar to just make sure I was good to go. The workout was starting in 5 minutes. 

    What happened next was one of the most efficient coaching jobs in the history of earth. Justin wanders over to me, watched me do one, cringed in horror, and then said something like, “raise your knees as high as you can first, then flick your feet up at the bar.” Huh, what? Okay. Bam, it was like night and day.

    During the workout, my new TTB method helped a ton. I still couldn’t string multiple together, but instead of missing 50% of my reps, I’m pretty sure I connected on all 30 of my TTB attempts. 3 full rounds, plus 3 TTBs on round 4. Much better than I thought possible.

    Open 12.3AthleteScore
    Worldwide Women's LeaderKristin Clever540
    World Wide Men's LeadersRich Froning531
    Need for MidAtl. Top 60 (Mens)391
    Top CFDR ManRob363
    Need for MidAtl. Top 60 (Womens)351
    Top CFDR WomanMaddie319
    David T.138

    (The women had the same number of reps, but had a 20” box and a 75# barbell)

    Okay, by now, I was really into this thing. I wasn’t exactly “competitive,” but I was really excited that I was at least in the same game as the big boys. As captured, melodramatically, by my March 10, 2012 Facebook Post: 

    I'll never know what it feels like to stand in the batter's box against a major league pitcher or to try to D up a legit-ass NBA player, but today I did the exact same Crossfit Open workout as the Fittest Man on Earth, Rich Froning. He only beat me 531-138. I'm coming for you, Rich. 

    By now, another 3,000 or so people had dropped out of the overall standings. After 3 wods, I was now sitting 27,527 out of 28,314. 

    WOD 12.4: Twelve minute AMRAP of 150 Wall Balls (20 lbs to 10' target), 90 Double-unders, and 30 Muscle-ups.

    This was a brutal one for me. The 150 wall balls is the “Karen” workout, which is pretty much my least favorite named workout. It’s just you and the wall. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Basically pure cardio for me. 

    The challenge here was that I had JUST gotten consecutive double-unders and I thought if I could just get to them, I could do some nice damage compared to others in my, ummm, “weight-class”. The problem was that my all-time best Karen was 10:56 and that was six months prior, and at the very end of successful Paleo challenge. I had sadly given back a lot of the weight and I knew that my cardio conditioning had regressed since then. This was not going to be fun.

    This was a struggle from the start. I think I probably asked just about every member of the gym how they thought I should break up the sets. (Three sets of 50? Thanks, Rob). I don’t now remember what my specific plan ended up being, but I remember after about 40 reps thinking that I was in huge trouble. As usual, Amy was coaching/judging me, and doing everything she could to keep me moving. Mostly it was her telling me to pick up the damn ball, and me dutifully reporting back that I was dying.

    But, somehow, she got me through it with a glorious 7 seconds to spare. Grabbed the rope and desperately knocked at 5 double unders right under the buzzer. Final score, 155. Those extra 5 double unders let me pass 670 people. That was kind of badass. I was now 24,124 overall out of 25,091.

    Open 12.4AthleteScore
    World Wide Men's LeadersNeal Maddox373
    Worldwide Women's LeaderKristen Clever270
    Need for MidAtl. Top 60 (Mens)259
    Top CFDR ManHarris259
    Need for MidAtl. Top 60 (Womens)244
    Top CFDR WomanAmy B./Rachel/Jara240
    David T.155

    Yes, Neil Maddox did all 150 wall balls, all 90 double unders, all 30 muscle ups, and then went back and did another 103 wall balls. Psychopath. Note, all of our top women scored 240, meaning they all got all of the wallballs and double unders, but no muscle ups. We did actually have a woman who scored a muscle-up during this wod, but since she didn’t sign-up to participate, her score didn’t count for us. So memo to you firebreathers, everybody needs to sign up! 

    WOD 12.5: Seven minute AMRAP of 3 thrusters (100 lbs); 3 Chest-to-bar pullups (ladder adding three reps each round) 

    Well, down to the last workout, and bam, they hit me with something that I can’t quite do, the chest to bar pull up. Again, technically, I wasn’t in fear of missing my goal going RX, because obviously I could do the thrusters, but who wants to score a “3”? Also, I am pretty good at thrusters, so if I could figure out the chest to bars, I might be able to actually score okay on this one. 

    As it turned out, I didn’t have CTB pullups. I was insanely, maddeningly close though. Like by an inch. I spent all week just trying to get a single one. Since you are allowed to attempt each wod as many times as you want, someone brilliantly suggested to me that before I attempt any CTB practice, I should just quickly do 3 thrusters. Then, if I happened to get one during the next 7 minutes, it would actually count for my score, and I could at least bank a “4” with a chance to beat that during the real event.

    So, I did that all week, never once feeling the satisfying “thud” of bopping my chest off of the bar, but sometimes coming so close that I couldn’t be sure whether I swiped it or not. One day that week, after failing before and after my morning class, I went back in the evening to try again. There, I had a new crop of people trying to give me that one pointer to get me that last half- inch. At one point, Coach Snyder (whom I don’t think I had even met prior to that) decides he’s going to get my chest to the bar by physically hoisting me up by my back. Probably not the scene you would normally see at other gyms. 

    That night, I watched an hour of CTB videos on youtube. (This was my favorite: http://gymnasticswod.com/content/crossfit-games-breakdown-week-6-workout-pt3

    On the morning before the Saturday group event, I actually gave it a full 7 minute trial run. If I was confident I had hit a single one, I would have clocked my “4,” and been done with it. But, I just wasn’t sure. I was either just touching the bar, or missing by millimeters at this point.

    The next morning, I asked Justin to put me in the first heat so that if I failed, I could try again in the second and third heats too. Not exactly a sign of confidence. Well, here we go… 

    So I do the thrusters and then start on the CTB. I definitely missed the first couple, but then on the third one, Amy says that I got it. You sure? She was, I wasn’t. A few attempts later, same deal, she said I got it, I couldn’t quite tell (still no bar “thud”). So now, I’m in the middle of a 7 minute AMRAP, and I’m arguing with my judge over whether or not I should no-rep myself. Megan C. sees the commotion and comes over to take a closer look. So, now I’ve got one of them on each side of me watching the bar. On another attempt: Both of them: “Yes!” Me, “uhh, are you sure?”

    At some point they convinced me that I was definitely grazing the bar and that was okay. I did another one just make sure I wasn’t cheating, at which point Megan grabbed me and demanded that I go pick up the barbell. So, I do my 6 thrusters, and then get back on the pull-up bar. Somehow, I managed to get two more successful CTBs to clock at total score of 14. 

    Open 12.5AthleteScore
    Worldwide Women's LeaderCamille Leblanc-Bazinet173
    World Wide Men's LeadersDanny Henry163
    Need for MidAtl. Top 60 (Mens)126
    Top CFDR ManHarris116
    Top CFDR WomanJara113
    Need for MidAtl. Top 60 (Womens)108
    David T.14

    In the end, I finished 21,567 out of 22,183 men who completed all 5 wods. You might say that was a lot to go through to beat less than 3% of the field. However, I chose to rank myself not just against the folks who did all the events, but rather against the 40,382 men who submitted scores for any of the 5 wods. When you look at it like that, I smoked nearly half the people who participated. And that’s not bad for a guy like me.

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