Grab yourself an organic, large Americano, put on some modern dance jazz, and put your feet up.
I’m sat in Leon in Moorgate, London, feeling comfortable and mindful while I wait for an Augmented Intelligence presentation in an hour. With C.F. Open EOD 18.5 looming on the immediate horizon, I’m in the perfect frame of mind to reflect on this year’s Open as it stands, and begin to look forward to the new training year 18-19.
I entered Open 18 on the back of a very strong training year. I’ve posted some really consistent improvements, in strength as well as conditioning. Personal Bests have been achieved, repeated, and overcome again. The atmosphere in CrossFit Watford has been simply incredible at times, the box tourism has been brilliant, and the little garage gym has served me extremely well too.
It was with real enthusiasm and excited anticipation that I approached C.F. Open 18. Last year’s percentile placings were 86th Worldwide Masters (35-39) and 84th Europe Masters. Year on year growth since 2012. Always wanting to just be better than the previous year, I set that as a goal but added a ‘stretch’ target of top 10% Masters Worldwide. Why not?
Score: 315 Reps Rx – 86th %tile, Europe Central Masters
Starting relatively ‘basic’ this was an all-inclusive workout that meant all boxes, all standards could have a crack RX and get off to a flying start. Plenty of strategies were published and I was determined to to follow one instead if just hammering it. With an aim to complete each row at approx 1200Kcal per hour, all TTB as 5/3, and all DB Cleans unbroken, I followed this to the letter, meeting it every time. Of course, the problem here being that I took my expected average Kcal per hour from an out of date 2000km Row attempt. I realised perhaps too late (after the wod!) That I should have pushed to an extra 50Kcal per hour or so to squeak out a few extra reps. However, all in all, not a bad start.
Time: 8:48 Rx + 103kg Clean. 70th %tile Europe Central Masters
I cocked this one up royally. Trying to follow a strategy again, I was far too paced on the Burpees. Completely unbroken throughout, I got stuck in a pace and realised too late to change it. It was when I finished the 7s and someone shouted “3:50” that I realised my mistake and had nothing left in really speed up. My video shows me leisurely jumping over the final bar in stark contrast to the retching and vomiting of others. Bollocks. I rapidly composed myself and hit the cleans, achieving a weight that I would never have been able to do this time last year, testament to the extra time I have carved it for specific strength training this year.
Total: 317 Reps Rx, 85th %tile Europe Central Masters
A bit of a mixed bag here. With my child-like ankles and duff Achilles, I knew that I was going to suffer on the double unders. I’ve avoided them a lot this year. So, it was a massive surprise when I hit 100 unbroken in the first round, in a time of 62 seconds! I think it was helped by a certain song coming on right at the start, telling me that my dad was definitely watching (“Thanks Dad, I miss you buddy!”). I did start the dubs with genuine tears in my eyes and a smile on my face 😂. The overhead squats were broke once, not to plan but I wobbled and dropped it. Quickly regained and finished though. The next set of dubs were a challenge. My right Achilles twinged immediately and I was forced to slow it right down, breaking 3 or 4 times. It was the muscle ups that really broke me though. Singles from the start, I was forced back in to false grip, almost strict, efforts despite the recent focus on neutral grip. Definitely work to do here in the next year. The 3rd set of dubs really, really hurt and I managed 85 in the remaining time.
Total: 92 Rx, 90th %tile Europe Central Masters
Well, all I can say is that I’m thankful that I am still ok at handstand push ups. I was RAGING at the end of this one, as the immense crew of CrossFit Plymouth soon saw. In the past, I’ve completed “Diane” (the first round of 21-15-9) in 4:51 previously. This time…8:50. However, never have I attempted these standards for Handstand Pushups. It’s insane. I believe the standards are unfair but I’ll cover that at a later date, they are what they are. I was left with 10 secs to Deadlift the 143kg bar, which I managed twice. Despite my upset at the time, I’ve since hugely mellowed, having seen how the whole community has struggled with it too. Again though, as per ring muscle ups, there is work to do in this next year.
Looking ahead to 18.5, with the Open not complete, I’d like to share some thoughts about myself from this year’s experience.
1. I am too hard on myself. I put too much pressure on myself this year and have unfairly chastised myself in the wake of apparent “defeat”. Not hitting my ‘stretch target’ of Top 10% is not failure; not in the eyes of the other coaches, the athletes nor in any other sense. With the exception of cocking up 18.2, the others scores are solid and a good basis for yet more development.
2. CrossFit. As demonstrated particularly by the ring MUs and handstand push ups, I am not “cross fit”. I have gained strength over the last year but at the expense of the gymnastic movements. As the new training year begins, I will review my programming accordingly. Gymnastic movements have been my strength over the last few years and I need to regain that.
3. Coaching Credibility. As a coach in CrossFit Watford, among some genuinely talented coaches and athletes, I don’t feel like I have necessarily led by example on the scoreboard. A post for another time but I feel that CrossFit Coaches are required to lead by example in a way not necessarily born out in other sports. However, this pressure is absolutely unwarranted and I need to get over it. Coaching is not about being top of leaderboards; it’s about knowing what your athletes need (not always just in the box) and understanding how to help them achieve their goals, ensuring high standards of performance throughout. That said, I feel that consistent Top 10% is probably a realistic benchmark for coaches to achieve, within their respective age group, of course! 😂
Despite knowing these things, I have been incredibly frustrated and upset throughout this competition. I felt ready, free of injury, and on an upward track yet haven’t quite hit the higher notes that I felt I could have. Sure, not every day is a PR day but given my perceived advancement over the last year (and there really have been some excellent ones), I wanted to demonstrate that to myself and to our team (#bluebadgeholders, I love you lot). I feel like I haven’t but have to reset again for next year. In my heart, I know I’ve been too hard on myself and that I’ve done pretty well (less 18.2) but still…more to do.
There are a few people who have known my incredible frustration over the course of this Open and who I should thank. Starting with Mrs Nomad, she’s been incredibly supportive and grounding. Heading out each Saturday morning for the workout, after I only commuted home late the night before, will have been annoying but she knows I love it. To the 3 genuinely talented athlete coaches, Charlie, Hat, and Tash (and James of CrossFit Plymouth!)…they help to put it all in perspective and bring many decades of collective competitive experience that I simply don’t have. And, to the athletes in CrossFit Watford and CrossFit Plymouth…2 awesome communities that I would love to tie together somehow.
All that’s left is Open WOD 18.5. The clue suggests back-to-back-to-back WODs…its being hosted by 3 female athletes…my guess is Fran in to Karen in to Isabel. You heard it here first. I’ll be taking this one with far more laughter and less seriousness, don’t worry. I’ve learned a lot and will develop strongly from my 5th Open comp.