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Monday, July 13, 2009

Day 2 and 3 Crossfit Games 2009

My apologies for this tardy post.  A warning that this is looong, but I wanted it to be thorough, and I feel as though it could be 5 times as long.  It was such an amazing experience, I could talk nearly endlessly about it.  

Went with my twin Josh and brother Jake.  Got to hang lots with the Martin clans, which is always good times and had the pleasure of meeting Bingo!

Day 1 of the individual Competition

What a day!  5 Wods that are enough to humble any man or woman in and of themselves.  Put them altogether in one day and you have a monster of a competition.  Add the 3 wod's on day 2 and you have enough when programmed as brilliantly as they were to crown the fittest man and woman alive.  I absolutely loved 7 of the 8 workouts.  Here are the descriptions of every wod, because I haven't yet seem them laid out anywhere else, including some of my thoughts about them.

The 7k hill run.  Does it get any more brutal?  I heard Michael Fitzgerald telling his friends that everyone fell.  He said he fell multiple times, once at least he slid a good 20 feet down the hill before he could regain his feet.  We are talking crazy steep which caused most competitors to scramble up with hands and feet.  Class 4 scrambling.  So with that we had our long monostructural metcon testing the outer limits of endurance.  Outer limits?  Yes.  You don't need to go longer to accurately test the merits or folly's ones endurance.   The finish was awesome with Spealer making a final kick to take first over Miko Salo.  What a couple of studs those two are.  This also brought out some of the highest drama of the weekend.  I'm not sure the name of the woman who collapsed 3 - 4 times in the final 50 yards.  By collapsed, I mean full body exhaustion, legs of jello, falling to the ground and attempting a forward roll with each fall.  Each time she hit her head as she did so as she was too spent to fully protect herself.  What an amazing show of will power and fortitude as you could plainly see she had zero quit in her.  She just picked wobbly spent self off the ground to continue on, only to fall again within a step or three.  How about Jason Khalipa collapsing as he came to the final flat portion of the run just past the stadium.  I mean we are talking total heat exhaustion, can't go any further collapse.  Not a mere mental break, character flaw quitting on the run, but the body shutting down and saying to the mind for you and me and our best intrest I've gotta stop these shenanigans NOW or there will be permanent damage.  And that is an iron will the body was shutting down.  Puts things in perspective when you realize he ended up finishing the wod.  Not only that but coming back to put on the rest of the performances he did.  A true comeback story to finish 5th overall.  Wow.  Just wow.  If there were ever any doubts of him being a one hit flash in the pan wonder because of 08's quick wod strength based performances, those were killed with finality this weekend.  He was truly a joy to watch competing.  His intensity and sportsmanship were spot on.  Speaking of such the intensity of the weekend was definitely one of the best parts for me.  It was a weekend filled with outstanding performances of forcing the body past limits and through searing pain.  What a stark motivation and encouragement it was for my own crossfit endeavors!  

Next we had the deadlift ladder.  What a wicked 1 - 2 punch that was.  A gnarly hill run immediately followed by a brute strength deadlift wod starting at 315 and adding 10lbs to each of the 20 bars all the way up to 505lbs.  They had 30 seconds to make one attempt at each bar.  My only wish is that they shouldn't have put an endcap on it, and/or should have progressed by 15lbs instead of 10lbs (which would have ended at 600lbs) so we could have seen how high the  athletes who finished would have gone.  This would have also avoided the 16 man pileup at 505lbs for first place finish in that wod.  No matter... it was intense.  Really made me want to go pick up something heavy.  Some PR's were made by some of the atheletes which is remarkable considering they had just run a 7k hill run ~1 hour before and had done so many reps over 300lbs to get to the new PR.  

3rd wod was the hill sand bag sprint/dash/hike/gruelling grind.  Thats a steep hill at the end which caused for some awesome finishes.  Talk about a crowd pleaser.  I really liked this wod.  Intensity was through the roof.  A bit of strategy involved with how to carry the sandbags and attempting to pace or risk hard charging and dyeing at the steep finish.   I was super bummed to see Josh Everett on this wod.  I was pulling for him as many were to take #1 for the entire Games.  It was ugly from the word 'go' as he first ran to pick up another athlete's sand bags.  That started things off wrong, he quickly adjusted to grab his own, but struggled to pick them up and situate them cleanly and efficiently.  Smooth is fast as they say and it just wasn't his day.  He ended up paying for it dearly as he lost is grip about 5-7 stepsand dropped a sandbag.  By the time he realized it, went back, picked it up and regained his forward pace he was out of contention and mentally it showed.  It was a slow pace for such a beast of a man up that hill and my unofficial time for him was around 1:43.  That had to have been the slowest men's time of the day.  It hit me hard as I realized that would likely kill any prayer of a top finish.  Much respect for you Josh.  You are a complete inspiration to me and one drop of a sandbag certainly doesn't change that for an instant.  I know he would have been in the top running had it not been for that.  

And that brings us to wod #4.  I hate to do this, but I've gotta be true to my thoughts.  I don't like to speak down about anything crossfit because of how amazing I believe it is and how much it has helped me.  Coach for one is a genius and the HQ staff running the games are a number of magnitudes ahead of me when it comes to this stuff.  Maybe the light bulb will turn on in my head eventually, and I'll get it, but it just doesn't sit well with me at this point.  So allow me to elaborate waay too much with some of my garbled thoughts.... 

 The stake wod.  Row 500m pound a 4 foot stake into the ground with a sledgehammer then row 500m.  Sounds simple enough right?  I bounce back and forth between thinking this is THE best test of accuracy (one of the 10 foundational elements of fitness) that has ever found itself into a crossfit wod OR thinking this was just plain dumb.  I can't decide.  It was agonizing to watch amazing athletes that we all KNOW are incredibly fit completely flounder during this wod.  Watching Gillian Mounsey struggle through it stuck out to me as a perfect example of this.  So does that mean this was a harsh, unbiased test of fitness that truly exposed the weakness of accuracy in some of these fine athletes?  I don't know its that simple.  I mean the winner swung a hammer daily for the last few years as a construction worker.  Seems like it fell too far onto the side of a sport specific skill.  Yes no one has ever competed in this before and that in and of itself is cool.  Yes its a very functional test of what one might need to do in the real world.  But thats not the point.  The point is that I believe accuracy (as its defined in 'What is Fitness?' - "The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity") is about the control of one's own  movement or a load's movement and how that relates towards a strength and conditioning program.  Not the ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity as its exemplafied in all of the many sports this world has to offer.  If that were the case then the Games next year could have a round of Golf, or a hitting session against a major league pitcher, a 3 point hoops contest, or a darts contest.  The only seeming difference between those things and the stake wod (also a high skill, non strength and conditioning specific application of movement) is that many people have competed at them before.   

If the spike wod is a great example of a fitness test, what type of training should be done to maximize success on such a wod?  It seems that the only real success one would have in training for this wod would be to actually practice hitting a target with a sledge, specifically a spike.  Simple right?  I mean thats the advice given when one wants to get better at the Olympic lifts.  You need to do them more then once every 3 weeks in order to accelerate your acquisition of skill on them.  But would practicing and improving upon hitting a spike with a sledge then transfer your newfound advance in 'accuracy' towards other accuracy dependent endeavors?  Seems to me it would be confined very narrowly to your success in hitting a spike and that is it.  If hitting a spike was a superior form of transferring success towards other aspects of accuracy then why isn't it a part of regular crossfit programing?  This question has been asked before by Tony Budding in his journal article 'The Quest to Measure Fitness' regarding the Games competition, "Can success in any specific event predict success in any other specific event"?  Tony answered with a "Yes".  I agree with him.  But I just don't know that this wod accomplished that.  I'm certainly not saying that I have all the answers and I know exactly what a better example of a test of accuracy would be.  Maybe the Olympic Lifts.  Maybe an obstacle course of some kind.  This wod just didn't sit well with me.  Maybe this will start a discussion that will lead towards me understanding it better.  Any and all thoughts are welcomed.  Enough of that tangent.  Please understand that my thoughts about the stake wod does not detract in any way my belief that the Games this year were an outstanding test of elite fitness and I also believe that the title of fittest man and woman is completely valid.  I think its one hiccup in a stellar group of wods.

Wod 5

3 Rounds of 30 Wall ball (12'-14' target) 20lbs, 30 Snatch 75lb men/ 45lb women  20 min cutoff

Brutal leg killer.  Great wod.  I'd have liked to have seen the standards be stricter and made the wall ball reps only count if the ball was caught each rep, but I'm being picky here.

And down to the final 16. 

Day 2, Wod 1:  Max Single Rep Snatch.  10 minutes to complete your best snatch.  Only rules being that you cannot touch your body anywhere with the bar from the chest up (this stops an athlete from using the rack position and jerking the weight), and the weight must be locked out overhead with completely vertical knees, hips, arms and feet brought together and in the same plane under the hips (this is a loose regurgitation of the rules from memory).  Awesome performances and a great addition to the Games programming.  Now we've got the two ends of the time domain spectrum, the long and 'slow' 7k and the short and powerful Snatch.  Excellent.  A fully thorough testing of elite fitness needs to include both long and short and I was very pleased to see them nail this.  Lots of PR's were made here too.  Impressive since the day before had to have completely wrecked the athletes.

Wod 2:  AMRAP 8 minutes: 4 HSPU, 8 KB Swings 70lbs men/53lbs women, 12 GHD situps.  The HSPU were done on paralletes with a fixed distance (thats good, no gaming the ROM), and I believe kipping was not allowed in the men's heats.  Legs had to be kept straight.  Or so I thought.  That was not the case.  Maybe I misheard the rules.  I hope so, otherwise the standards weren't kept by all the judges.  Too bad.  Great wod.  Classic triplet that could easily be a named wod.  

Wod 3:  A chipper of ...  
15 barbells cleans (155 lb.)
30 toes to bar
30 box jumps (24 inches)
15 muscle-ups
30 push presses (40)
30 double-unders
15 thrusters (135)
30 pull-ups
30 burpees
Overhead walking lunges (45lbs)

This is the only wod I wasn't able to watch.  Had to get back to reality and go to a buddy's wedding.  

 My only problem with the first day's wods were the lack of any gymnastic movements.  I think either of the last two wods would have been perfect had one been moved to the first day so that HSPU's or muscleups real field levelers could have been brought into play and been part of what either eliminated him/her from or propelled an athlete into day 2.

All told it was an incredible experience to be a part of.  I was in awe of the athletes and superbly pleased with the events themselves (despite my long rambling about the stake wod).  Huge thanks to every single competitor for putting out 100% and being such an inspiration,  thanks to the Crossfit HQ staff who conceived, designed, and ran the games, and thanks to all the many judges one who were the nuts and bolts of the weekend and made it all possible.  I'm not normally one who enjoys being much of a spectator, but this was altogether a different story.  A new annual priority in my calendar!  The Games certainly did not disappoint.  Entertaining as all get out and as valid as a test that has ever been created for the fittest on the planet to battle it out.  Congrats to all the athletes who qualified to make it to the Games and especially those final 32.  Big congrats to the champions.  Enjoy your reign as the fittest alive and who knows, one could have a repeat performance next year.  Miko and Tanya you are both incredible.


Joel said...

Wow. I am jealous.

Thanks for all the detail. I wish I could have been there.

JAK said...

Glad you enjoyed the detail. I figured you would at least enjoy reading it all since you weren't able to make it and they hadn't yet released much on the Games site.