The Open 15.5: and then they were done…

Bit by bit did I do the opens over the past few weeks. It’s been a cool and energizing, inspiring as well as a reality-check time. Today is Good Friday, the sun is shining on my living room hammock and on my face. The 2015 CrossFit Open are officially over since Monday. There hasn’t been a new workout announcement today, no live show with top athletes and evil smirking Dave Castro, no new strategizing how to attack a workout, an unknown movement, a new PR, a least favorite CrossFit element.

To be honest, I am not sad at all the opens are over, actually I am kind of glad that I get to sleep in on Saturdays and also don’t need to worry about maybe not so great performances. I know, I know I’m doing all this for fun and I’m not in a competition. But as a full-time thinker my mind is constantly weighing the ifs and buts and maybes, racing from past to present to the future, orbiting the possibilities of my time spent with sports and on earth.

The last five weeks were a really cool learning time for me. Did I bit of more than I could chew? Nope – I think I did perfectly fine for my experience and took notes what I need to work on – if I want to improve. And yes, I want to. And I know I can. I’m fitter now than I was ten years ago and I just hope that I can become an active old granny if I continue being active (see…that’s what I mean about thinking ^-^).

I learned a bunch about myself and my CrossFit me, I also learned a bunch more about my fellow box members. Simple things like their age and experience, but also techniques and pacing strategies. Oh and not to forget some killer recipes for killer soul food treats! Looking back though I must admit I didn’t eat as much banana bread as I originally expected. Not that it wasn’t good – believe me it was killer delicious – but I’m not a big sweet eater after a workout. Water comes first, second: rest and some stretching. Then usually something more hearty. But that’s a different story and might be told some other time.

So, what was 15,5.?
It was a WOD for time and included one of my least favorite but also one of  my favorite elements of CrossFit: rowing (booo) and thrusters (yayyyy).

27-21-15-9 calory row/thrusters of 20kg (scaled)

I finished it in an okay time of 11 minutes and 51 seconds and might try the RX version sometime soon, meaning 30kg thrusters. For fun of course.

But for now, the 2015 CrossFit Games Open are in the books. They are over, finito, zu Ende! Thanks to everyone who came to support! Thanks to all judges and coaches, photographers, dogs, bakers, friends, and the big big global CrossFit community! Keep up the great spirit!



The Open: 15.4 and the power of pacing

20150326_204304The 2015 CrossFit Open are nearly at an end. In only a few hours we’ll find out about the last open WOD, perform it, maybe even twice or more, and then see who goes to Regionals and eventually the Games. For me though the opens will be over after 15.5 – and I’ll go back to “normal” training routine. To be honest, I’m kind of looking forward to that for I miss sleeping in on Saturdays and doing non Open trainings/WODs only once a week.

Looking back at 15.1 to 15.4 it looks like I did well in 15.2 and 15.4, and not so well in the odd WODs. This would mean I should prepare myself mentally more for the finale, calm myself and not expect too much.

15.4 has taught me to stay calm from the beginning – take smaller steps – and boy did I surprise myself. I wasn’t expecting more then 60 reps and in the end finished with 81. Where did all these super powers come from? I’ve known this feeling from a few runs – it’s weird that towards the end of a race – yes even a marathon – once you sense the finish line – your inner super hero comes out – when running it’s my inner Usain Bolt – when CrossFitting it’s my inner beast mode. I don’t care if I don’t look pretty push pressing the 30kg bar or cleaning the 35kg bar and bruising my shins. Sweat? Yes, I sweat a lot – it’s pouring down my face. Not pretty. Pain? Yes, my hands are in pain from holding the bar. Pulse? Yep – it’s beating hard and let’s me know how much harder I can go. But it’s CrossFit not a beauty pageant – I can go pretty hard it seems.

15.4 was for the scaled division:

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 8 minutes of:
10 push presses
10 cleans

Men push press 95 lb. and clean 115 lb.
Women push press 65 lb (about 30kg) and clean 75 lb (about 35kg)

And I wonder if I’ll ever be able to do RX, check it out on

30kg and 35kg respectively for both movements are relatively heavy weights for me. My secret to a more than satisfying result was: I did exactly what professionals preach: pacing! Take smaller steps – don’t go unbroken – don’t go all out in the first rounds. Stay focussed. My coach also said: depending on how comfortable you feel with the weights – I felt very uncomfortable and actually scared – go with a maximum of 5 reps. I actually did the cleans in singles and now I know how efficient this can be!

Thanks to my judge Svenja for counting and believing…
…and the he hearty scorecard!

The Open: 15.3 – who’s got balls?!

When 15.3 was announced it instantly became the workout that made the 2015 Opens real. Why? Because it included muscle-ups, one of the hardest movements in CrossFit (to my understanding). They are not impossible and you don’t have to be a gymnast to do them. It only takes a lot of training and commitment, sometimes even luck and talent may be helpful as well to eventually figure them out.

Whatever type of athlete you are and in whatever division you’re doing this years opens not only mental balls were a part of 15.3: actual balls were, too. Because wall ball shots defined the second movement of the workout – for the RX as well as the scaled division. And they crushed me.

Here’s what 15.3 was:
Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 14 minutes of:

  • 7 muscle-ups (only Rx – scaled didn’t have them)
  • 50 wall-ball shots
  • 100 double-unders (for scaled: 200 single-unders)

Men use 20-lb. ball to 10 feet (for scaled: 9feet) // Women use 14-lb (for scaled: 10-lb) ball to 9 feet

It has taken me months to do WBS with 6 kg (about 13 lb) properly and even though the announced scaled WOD suggested 10 lb (4.5 kg) we had to do them with 6 kg for the lighter balls in our box were too light (3 kg). I had a strategy and wanted to complete 2 rounds. I also hoped to at least start round 3 by breaking the WBS down to sets of 5 and also breaking the 200 single unders into sets of 50 to control my pulse and stay focussed. The single-unders were the least challenging – the WBS took forever and I ended up in a frustrating no-rep parade.

The good thing about doing the WOD on Saturday is that you can repeat it in the hopes of finishing with a better score that you can enter online. And I’ve been contemplating about doing that, which also would have meant that I had to squeeze in another training session somewhere and not get as much rest as I feel I should allow myself right now. I’ve also been contemplating about blaming my not so yay date I went on the night before doing the open (for the record the lack of sleep didn’t come from a night in company – btw a solo night like any other – but simply too much contemplating about the many “whys” and “what ifs”…).

But no, it’s not right to blame someone else for failing with my own strategy. I can’t even blame David Castro for programming 15.3 or the judge who counted my reps. Instead I should take the advice I gave others who were afraid of failing with muscle-ups and hold my head up high:

Remind yourself for how long you’ve been doing CrossFit (or any other sport). Remind yourself what CrossFit (and as a matter of fact ANY sport) is all about, that it never gets boring and lets us learn new things over and over (movements as well as so much about ourselves).

While I have nothing but respect for anyone who will try and has tried a totally new and at first scary movement like muscle-ups, and while I can totally see why anyone would try over to improve their score, I’ve come to a conlusion – which on a Sunday afternoon could also be understood as: “Ya right, all she wants to do is rest in her hammock and not put on her beastmode – lazy!”

I also believe that it takes a lot of balls to simply accept your score – my score, learn from a failed strategy, work on my technique – do it better the next time, rest and move on to 15.4!

The Open: 15.2 was 14.2 was fun…

…yes, really it was fun!

It was fun for a  lot of things. One being the excitement mixed with hilarity and tension once my CrossFit friends and I found out about 15.2 – the second WOD of this year’s Open. It turned out to be 14.2, so a repetition from last year’s Open and thus the perfect way for everyone who did the Open last year to see how far they have come. It was:

For as long as possible:

  • From 0:00-3:00 = 2 rounds of: 10 overhead squats (95 / 65 lb.) & 10 chest-to-bar pull-ups
  • From 3:00-6:00 = 2 rounds of: 12 overhead squats (95 / 65 lb.) & 12 chest-to-bar pull-ups
  • From 6:00-9:00 = 2 rounds of: 14 overhead squats (95 / 65 lb.) & 14 chest-to-bar pull-ups
  • Etc., following same pattern

The scaled variation started the rounds with 6 OHS with 45 lb. (20kg) for women and chin-over-bar-pull-ups.

15.2 was also fun for the fact that I totally surprised myself. And I hope to remember myself more often that I don’t have anything to lose. For what it’s worth: All in, right?

Dealing with the WOD announcement
Each Open WOD is announced at 5pm PT on Thursdays – so very early Friday morning European time. Although I don’t stay up all night or set my alarm clock to watch the live announcement I usually check my newsfeed briefly once I wake up. Since I went to the 7am morning class last Friday (and actually also the one before) I got an early chance to chat about the WOD with my coach and some other fellow box members. The chat went on later that day in our Facebook group and in countless funny messages – and probably continued until the Open Party on Saturday which unfortunately I couldn’t attend due to a work seminar. So I had to wait until Monday to do 15.2. Waiting – the least fun part of the workout when you see all the pictures taken from the party…

I think that the majority of athletes – myself included – who signed up for the scaled variation secretly hoped that pull ups could be scaled in some way allowing extra equipment and not just scaled from chest to bar to chin over bar. But as straps or other scaling ways were not allowed we all basically accepted the fact that we’d be done after 30 seconds. Quickest WOD ever…

Why warm up if all you do is 6 OHS, right?

Beastmode on for 15.2
While it’s been great fun waiting for the WOD announcement and then talking about strategies how to succeed in it, it’s also been great fun to eventually perform it. Really, no kidding!

Surprisingly I struggled more with the OHS than expected. I haven’t done much lifting lately so I didn’t feel as strong and solid in my squat as I had hoped. But I was still done quickly enough that I had enough time left to decide whether I should accept my score of 6 reps or at least try one of my very own and unique kipping frog pull ups. I call them “kipping frog pull ups” because my kipping timing is so poor that I feel like I have to kick myself up in the air which kind of looks like a frog jump movement (at least that’s what I imagine it looks like). And for the record: strict pull ups only work for me with a range of straps.

By the time I attempted my first pull up, everyone else in my heat was already done, so all eyes were on me. A nasty situation…which after 2-3 warm-up kips turned out to be magical. I somehow frogged my chin over the bar six times in six single and slow and weird looking pull ups. I shook my head for I hadn’t expected this to happen, smirked from ear to ear, glanced at the clock just to find out I still had about 20 seconds left to finish up 6 more OHS before the three minute time cap. In the end I completed 15.2 with a score of 18 reps – three times higher than expected and a feeling of confidence and pride that was long missed. But no worries, I’ll make sure to leave my ego outside for the next WOD. Can’t wait to find out what 15.3 is…how I dislike waiting…

And for the record: according to The CrossFit Games Nathalie Newhart finished 15.2 (RX) with a total of 441 reps and beat last year’s record of 404 set by Camille Leblant-Bazinet. Long way for me to go ;)

The Open: 15.1 is done.

My 1 year anniversary of CrossFit is only a few days away. Let me say this: it’s been a crazy first year of beast mode and frustration, PRs and rest days, and about 100-150 WODs. While this may not seem a lot to full-time CrossFitters, I still made good progress with (only) two sessions per week in all this time. After all I now know there are scarier things out there (in CrossFit universe) than burpees.

And even more so, I made some really good friends that got me into signing up for a team challenge a while ago and now even The Open: a series of workouts over the course of five weeks that people all over the world can complete. The best of the best are competing round for round to qualify for regional competitions and eventually the Games. Others – the majority – are not necessarily competing, but participating to see how far they’ve come. I’m one of them. And I’m also doing it for banana bread…yummy banana bread, and even vegan. Need I say more? I’ll let you know after the open how much banana bread it was that I’ve eaten.

Let the Open begin
My box (CrossFit Sankt Pauli) threw a “The Open Party – 15.1″ at our newest location (CrossFit Sankt Pauli, Ottensen). Everyone was invited to come for support or bring some cake (for support). Every athlete who signed-up for the Open had the chance to complete the workout in heats of 3-4 people:

10818336_10205158525395533_8852336965173745606_oWorkout 15.1: 9-minute AMRAP: 15 toes-to-bars, 10 deadlifts, 5 snatches (RX: M 115 lb. /  F 75 lb. || Scaled: 15 hang – knee-ups, M 85 lb./F 55 lb.)
Workout 15.1a: 1-rep-max clean and jerk – 6-minute time cap

Going into the workouts I wasn’t sure what was possible, how many rounds I could do and what my C&J would be. I guess I was just glad the first workouts didn’t include any kind of gymnastics – that would have been a less beastmode-esque start into The Open for me. While I was pretty content with my 15.1 result of 187 reps, 15.1a turned out to be less successful. But I keep telling myself that not knowing my PR for I haven’t trained for a maximum C&J weight yet, should make me relax. Comparing myself to the RX level athletes around me will only make me feel weaker than I am.

Since I had to drop the 40kg bar before locking my shoulders, 35kg became the new PR that I could build up to.

And that’s exactly what I did yesterday. I didn’t attempt for an overall better 15.1 result to submit online and score a better ranking in The Open. My muscles were still sore from Saturday and a deeply missed bootcamp training session on Sunday. So this time I really wanted to take things more relaxed. At the same time, I also wanted to give those 40kg another try without a big crowd and time pressure. Just like you should get back on to your feet if you tripped.

10382433_10205153528870623_5618198414920039071_oThis time I took smaller steps – after 35kg I tried 38kg before loading the bar with two more kilos. I allowed myself more time to breathe and focus on the technique. And voila: within only 2 days I improved my clean and jerk PR by 5kg.

While sometimes you succeed, sometimes you’ll be disappointed. It’s up to you to get out of that hole and work on having more successful days. While this may not be big news, a sport like CrossFit is a great way to make you appreciate the possibilities given to you and let you carry this mental strength into other environments like your job or relationship. All you need to do is be open to becoming a better you – and then treat yourself to some delicious banana bread. That said: Well done to everyone who’s completed 15.1. Are you curious for what’s next? I am!

All photos in this post were taken by Sina, aka Tiger Lilly. Thank you!