This is actually the first Crossfit blog post I ever wrote. It covers a 74 day Paleo challenge I did back in September 2011. It was originally posted on the Crossfit DoneRight daily blog, and had some additional excepts from my food log. Here is what I wrote:As my crossfitting homies gear up for our latest Paleo challenge, I thought I’d share with everybody the results of the private Paleo challenge just completed by me and my boy, Mike. As many of you know, I have struggled with my weight for a long time. I have tried every diet ever invented, and Mike and I have had numerous weight loss bets over the years—most of which involved some humiliating penalty for the loser, like having to post shirtless pictures on the Internet or making donations to the Duke basketball program (shivers at the thought…). This time, we tried something completely new—a collaborative effort, where we had a combined weight loss target, and could only win or lose as a team, regardless of how either individual performed.
Looking back, I think my results were mixed. At first, I thought I had done really well: Lost 20 pounds, set a nice PR on Fight Gone Bad, and didn’t have any cheats the whole time, except for the one planned Fight Gone Bad reward. 74 days of no bread, rice, pasta, dairy, soda, juice, dessert, etc. Not so easy to do. However, after going through my food log again now, I can see that I really have tons of room for improvement. I never really introduced veggies as a main part of the diet and I never phased in any sort of portion control as I originally intended. Binging on bacon, steak, and pistachios is no formula for elite fitness. So, I think I did well, but just not fantastic. Then again, I did crush me some benchmarks : )Grace (30 clean and jerks – 135)9/26/11: 5:17 (115lbs)1/12/11: 9:30 (85lbs)Jackie (1000 m row, 50 thrusters 45lbs, 30 pullups)9/27/11: 11:45 (1 ¾ bands)4/4/11: 13:38 (2 ¾ bands)Annie (50-40-30-20-10 Double Unders/Situps)9/28/11: 6:33 (½ reps)7/25/11: 12:55 (½ reps)Karen (150 Wallballs – 20 lbs)9/29/11: 10:56 RX2/22/11: 14:01 (16lbs)Nicole (20 Min AMRAP of 400m run + max pull-ups)9/30/11: 32 RX9/9/10: 46 (2 ¾ bands)
- Eggs: 228 (3.1 per day)
- Coffee: 724 oz (9.8 oz per day)
- Cobb/Chopped Salads: 25
- Burrito Bowls: 12
- Bacon/Turkey Bacon: 201 strips (2.7 strips per day)
- Pistachios: 35 bowls
- Steak: 347 oz (4.7 oz per day)
Just found an old food log I kept back in May 2011. I was participating in a weight loss challenge for Crossfit, and keeping a log was required to win. For some reason, I had decided to air my frustration and struggles with running commentary and pictures that I submitted with my weekly food journals. Below is the actual journal I submitted:
Tuesday April 26, 20119:00 am Scrambled Eggs and black coffee. I got this at my “go-to”, a per-pound buffet (slop) bar called Soho Café in the bottom floor of my work building. It’s pretty much my regular spot for breakfast and lunch (when dieting). The “portion” I chose was a random amount of eggs I scooped out of the bin. During the last challenge, I was calling this “3 scrambled eggs”. It’s probably closer to 8. As you can see in the picture below, I decided not to forgo added salt (and pepper). I did forgo the milk/cream/sugar in my coffee. I will attempt to go all black coffee for the whole month. I also passed on the “not strictly against Paleo, but I’d better steer clear of” bacon, sausage, and turkey sausage. Judgment call. Bacon sometimes sends me off into binges, so I think it’s best to leave it alone.
10:45 am: Hungry. Want lunch. Society says I have to wait until at least 11:30.11:05 am: Destroy my emergency beef jerky or wait another 25 minutes for lunch? Or do both? I guess I will try to wait. About to eat my keyboard…11:30 am: Back to the slop bar. Took BBQ brisket, grilled salmon, and two sad little slices of red pepper. I’m sure BBQ sauce is not allowed, but not an egregious violation (I think). The amount of brisket pictured there is what I would have previously ball-parked as “6 oz”. Really no idea, but I’m sure it’s more than a few “servings”. See how I also unnecessarily wasted 2 bucks on “flavored” (zero calorie) water.
11:55 am. Back at my desk. Holy crap. What the hell I am supposed to do for the rest of the day? Work?12:20 pm: Popped a piece of juicy fruit. Judges? No foul.1:15 pm: Suddenly tired and need a break. 100% chance I would be taking an illicit snack under usual circumstance. So, what now? Black coffee? Ice Water? Cigarette? (kidding) Let’s try a walk around the block...2:30 pm: Killed the beef jerky. Wasn’t that great. I think maybe I was more bored than hungry.3:15 pm: My homie emails me to see if I want to go eat wings with him. Its 3:15 on a Tuesday. This is my life. He is shocked that I decline.4:00 pm: 6 oz black coffee7:30 pm: Kelly and the kids back from Florida, and its Ryan’s birthday. He chooses (of course!) Mi Rancho. (Love this boy!). We decided to take it go and I order the Carne Asada, which is just steak and had absolute no tortillas, rice, cheese, chips, or any other contraband. Take that Big Lectin Lobby!. I did, however, pummel an embarrassing amount of guac, and about half of the chicken, steak, and onions from Kelly’s fajitas. Oh, and when we got home a giant cake was waiting for us that our old nanny dropped off for Ryan. No cake for me. (I’m a real Tommy Toughguy on Diet Day One)
Wednesday April 27, 20116:00 am: Crossfit. Everybody wants a muscle-up. I WANT A MUSCLE-UP. Let’s go Paleo!9:00 am: Back to Soho. Oh, yeah, I knew there was something I forgot to do last night (shop for food, cook). Another heap of scrambled eggs; black coffee.11:45 am: Back to Soho for more slop. Big portion of BBQ pork (fatty and delicious, BBQ sauce prohibition noted); grilled chicken, and a small serving a watermelon and cantaloupe (Take that, scurvy!)1:15 pm: Received email from my paralegal: “Subject: baked goods. cupcake delivery between 10 – 1 tomorrow” I literally have no idea what she is talking about, but it doesn’t sound good. This is my life.1:25 pm: Cupcake clarification received: From my law partner: “Subject: i know . . . How tired you must be of writing checks for cupcake receipts, but I just want to let you know that I could not let the Royal wedding slip past unacknowledged and therefore I asked [paralegal] to send two dozen royal-wedding-themed cupcakes to [your worksite] to arrive tomorrow. Brilliant!!” Super…6:00 pm: Got busy with work this afternoon and forgot to pine away for junk food. Hey, this gives me an idea…7:45 pm: Yes, and I finally get on the scoreboard with a home cooked meal (Thanks K!). Broiled salmon with some grilled green, yellow and red peppers. Also, finished off some leftover chicken, steak and onions from Mi Rancho last night. Also, had about 4 tablespoons of Sun Butter (Sunflower seed “peanut” butter). Almost made it through the night without any serious breaches, except for getting tripped up by 2 wayward spicy Chick-Fil-A nuggets left on my daughter’s plate. I had initially turned my nose up at them, but crumbled when I heard they were “spicy”. Overall, a pretty good day, IMO.Thursday April 28, 20116:00 am Crossfit. Cardio day (burpees, situps, double unders). Okay, I guess it takes more than 2 days of eating “healthy” before one’s cardio improves. Point taken.8:55 am: Successfully avoided punching bagel-eating passerbyer in the face.9:00 am: Soho slop getting old. Scrambled eggs and black coffee. Mercifully, the bin-o-bacon was not looking particularly crispy or I might have caved.11:45 am Lunch at Bobby Vans. Was thinking I could do a steak and veggies and would be okay. Got there and was starving so rationalized that adding the “spicy pork wings” split 3 ways would be okay. (I basically had 1 spare rib looking thing, not a disaster). The steak came with Brussels sprouts, which was good, but as also topped with some type of cheese/butter/onion straw things, which was bad. I basically licked the plate clean, so poor effort there, but I’m not distraught over it. At least I did better than my friend who ordered the Nachos for lunch. (I mean, really) If I get thought the afternoon without junk food, and follow the rules for dinner, I will be happy with myself.1:15 pm: 3 royal wedding themed cupcakes sitting here for waiting for me. Not even tempted. Seriously.3:00 pm: 8 oz black coffee. 0 Kcals. Holla!4:00 pm: 8 almonds. Thrilling.7:45 pm: Walk in the door and wife suggests I go out and bring home good already cooked Paleo food. Done! Hamburger Hamlet, matching his and her 16 oz ny strips with side of spinach. (also had about 4 more tablespoons of Sun butter before picking up the steaks)Friday April 29, 20119 am: Soho scrambled eggs and black coffee. Getting old already, and May hasn’t even started yet.11:45am: Soho slop. Whoa, they have like real steak on the slop bar. Steak, guac, onions, 1 piece of watermelon, 1 piece of cantaloupe. Okay, I’m a little out of control with the steak, but keeping to Paleo pretty good, I think
7:00 pm: 4 teaspoons of sun butter (okay, just checked the label on this. Lots of sugar. Goodbye sunbutter!) Large steak (cooked in toaster oven, seriously). Handful of almondsSaturday April 30, 201110:00 am: 2 hardboiled eggs; leftover steak from dinner, 2 pickles, 1 green apple4pm: Iced coffee (black); 2 hardboiled eggs (okay, this is getting ridiculous with the eggs); handful of almonds; ¼ cup of cantaloupe7pm: Paleo dinner cooked by wife: Mussels appetizer (with Paleo-suspicious sauce); broiled chicken; black iced tea9PM: 1 hardboiled egg (brutal)Sunday May 1, 20119 am: 2 hardboiled eggs; egg/eggbeater omelet (mixed, ratio unknown); black coffee (numerous cups); blueberries, strawberries, and bananas (1/2 cup total)1pm: Ryan’s 5th birthday party. Pizza, cake, and lemonade… served. I may have popped a blood vessel abstaining.4PM: Dizzy from hunger, just started stuffing Paleo-friendly food down my throat: 1 hardboiled egg; 6 oz of sliced turkey; 1 pickle; 1 banana; handful of almonds; several handfuls of cashews.6:00 PM: 1 Green Apple.6:30pm: Zonked out for the night. Possible dehydration caused by sodium bingeMonday May 2, 20117:20 am: Finally got the courage to weigh myself. 220.5 lbs About what I expected. Started Crossfit a year ago at 239.5, and had gotten down to a low of 202 at the end of our last lean-back challenge. Fairly disappointed with the weight gain, but completely consistent with how I’ve felt, looked, etc. Bitter. Determined. Be afraid muscle up… I’m coming…9:00 am: Soho slop. My go-to scrambled eggs bin was down to the nubs. Normally, that’s god’s way of telling me to go to the cheesy omelet bin. Not today. Went to the veggie omelet bin. After deposing the staff to ensure that no mushrooms were hidden within, had a normal slop serving of eggs with tomato, onions, and green peppers. Plus Black Coffee.12:00 pm: Chinese buffet. Probably too early in The Challenge to take a risk like this, but I really didn’t do too bad. Had egg drop soup, grilled chicken skewers, peppers, steak and onions. Had a little bit of some chicken in some yummy sauce, but not too much, and nothing breaded or fried. No rice, noodles, wontons, etc. Not a good meal, but not extremely horrible either. Still optimistic.8:00PM: Got home starving. Immediate put steaks into the toaster oven. Snacked on salted pecans and roast beef while steak was cooking. Probably had about 16 oz of steak. Had a small bowl of raspberries and blueberries for desert.Tuesday May 3, 20115:30 am: Stepped on the scale, 222.0 Gained 1.5 pounds since yesterday. Uggg.6:00 am: Crossfit. Second bad workout in a row. No energy/body dragging. Paleo is having the opposite on me—making me weaker and heavier (Wait, did those guys say we should eat “no sugar” or “all sugar”? I’ll check with them tomorrow.)7:15 am: Okay, back down to 220.5 post workout, same as yesterday. I’m going a bit kookie here...9:00 am Slop bar: Went with the non-mushroom veggie eggs again and black coffee. Feeling grumpy.12:00 pm: Think I score my first salad of the Challenge. Lettuce, tomatoes, shrimp, London broil, vinaigrette dressing (okay? Not okay?), cucumbers, onions. No bread, crouton, cheese, or any other contraband I could identify. Ignored that nachos my jackass friends ordered (again). Pretty good, I think.6:30 pm: Two cans of tuna fish with a teaspoon of some Omega-3 fake mayo crap, which hopefully is Paleo friendly. Hoping I may have turned a corner as I seemed (for the first time) somewhat less hungry between lunch and dinner.8:00pm A few slices of roast beef plus handful of almonds (better than popcorn?)Wednesday May 4, 20116:00 am: Crossfit: A nice front squat PR to start the day. Good Paleo pep-talk from Coach Rob.7:15 am: 221 lbs. Maybe the scale is broken?8:45am: Scrambled eggs and sparkling water (I’m so fancy!)11:45am: Not even hungry. WTF??!! Am I dying?1:00 pm Soho slop: BBQ pork; grilled chicken, and a small piece of cantaloupe and a small piece of honey dew. Afterwards, a large black coffee to take back to my desk. I know I need to hit more vegetables, but I just couldn’t stomach them just now.8:00 pm Delicious homemade meal provided by Kelly. 4 baked scallops and side of asparagus. Wow, that’s like a normal person meal.Thursday May 5, 20117:15 am: post-wod weigh in. 218. Holla!9:00 am: two hard boiled eggs (portion control!)11:15 am: 8 oz black coffee12:00 PM: Slop bar: Corned beef (is this okay—Is there corn in corned beef. corn is bad), grilled chicken, tomatoes, and cauliflower. I know my meet/veggie ratio is still inverted, but I think I’m improving.
7:15 pm Back to Hamburger Hamlet. 16 oz ribeye + sautéed spinach. So much for portion control. Also had several handfuls of cashews before and after dinnerFriday May 6, 20117:00 am Afraid to weigh myself after the steak last night9:00 am: Scrambled eggs and coffee. See picture for relatively typical portion of eggs I’ve been eating. I actually didn’t finish the whole portion this time. Definitely a first for me. Think the appetite has decreased. And is this suit a little loose? Might be starting to hallucinate.
1:30 pm: Soho slop: grilled chicken, Korean bulgogi, and 4 cherry tomatoes. I know, need more veggies.7:30 pm: Small serving of baked chicken, large plate of salad (lettuce, peppers, cucumbers) and a healthy serving of questionable vinaigrette dressing9:00 pm: Several handfuls of cashewSaturday May 7, 20119:15 am: Silver dinner: Western Omelet (eggs, ham, green peppers, onions) + strawberries and black coffee. Only “cheat” was two bites of my son’s sausage-- not my typical scavenging of half eaten pancakes, biscuits, and toast. Good effort!12:15 pm: 2 cans tuna + teaspoon of diet omega 3 mayo.1:00 – 3:00 PM: WTF just happened??!! My appetite seemed in check for the past several days, and now I am starving. Refusing to eat blatant contraband, but I have been grazing for the past 2 hours: cashews, and apple, a banana, a package of beef jerky, and some grapes. Nothing is working. STILL HUNGRY. Its like a glitch in the Paleo matrix.5:00pm: Needed a pre-dinner snack because I didn’t want to be starving before going out to dinner. Running out of Paleo options. Ended up eating 4 turkey sausages. So much for my vow against bacon and sausage…8:00pm: American Tap Room. Cup of (non creamy) Maryland crap soup. Even googled whether crab soup was Paleo. Waitress said there were no potatoes in there, but I think there may have been. 12 oz NY strip. Grilled asparagus. Black Coffee. Decent effort.Sunday May 8, 20118:00 am: 220.0 lbs. Brutal.8:30 am: three scrambled eggs with turkey pepperoni, turkey, and guac. Black coffee.1:15 pm: pistachios + 3 large handfuls of almonds. I know I’m eating too many nuts, but struggling for options.4:00 pm: Weird pre-dinner meal: chicken and steak from a kabob place, on a bed of lettuce with an unlawful creamy dressing.6:00 pm: Mother’s Day dinner at Legal Seafood. Scallops with a side salad (Lettuce, tomatoes, carrots (removed), sunflower seeds, and another dicey dressing—salad was pretty small, though). Unsweetened Ice tea.
And that was just the first week. The challenge continued for 3 more weeks, and I ended up losing only about 8 pounds total. My food choices (and slip-ups) remained much the same, but overall it got easier as I went along. As my frustration level dropped, my food journals became progressively less sassy, and therefore I can spare you the chore of reading 12 more pages of my musings over slop bars, black coffee, almonds, and steak cooked in toaster ovens. You get the point.
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
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.
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.
6. 4/6/13 Beating Almost 15,000 Dudes In A WorkoutThis 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.
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 12.1 Athlete Score World Wide Men's Leaders Scott Panchik/Danilla Shokhin 161 Worldwide Women's Leader Kristin Clever 143 Need for MidAtl. Top 60 (Mens) 127 Top CFDR Woman Jara 119 Top CFDR Man Rob 118 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 12.2 Athlete Score Worldwide Women's Leader Annie Thorisdottir 109 World Wide Men's Leaders Rich Froning 98 Need for MidAtl. Top 60 (Womens) 85 Need for MidAtl. Top 60 (Mens) 79 Top CFDR Man Rob 69 Top CFDR Woman Maddy 67 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 12.3 Athlete Score Worldwide Women's Leader Kristin Clever 540 World Wide Men's Leaders Rich Froning 531 Need for MidAtl. Top 60 (Mens) 391 Top CFDR Man Rob 363 Need for MidAtl. Top 60 (Womens) 351 Top CFDR Woman Maddie 319 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 12.4 Athlete Score World Wide Men's Leaders Neal Maddox 373 Worldwide Women's Leader Kristen Clever 270 Need for MidAtl. Top 60 (Mens) 259 Top CFDR Man Harris 259 Need for MidAtl. Top 60 (Womens) 244 Top CFDR Woman Amy B./Rachel/Jara 240 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 12.5 Athlete Score Worldwide Women's Leader Camille Leblanc-Bazinet 173 World Wide Men's Leaders Danny Henry 163 Need for MidAtl. Top 60 (Mens) 126 Top CFDR Man Harris 116 Top CFDR Woman Jara 113 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.