photo by Steve Penland

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Mayhem in Mankato

(All right, kids, you may want to go to the bathroom, find a comfortable chair, and arm yourself with your caffeinated beverage of choice--this is gonna be a long one!)

Mayhem in Mankato started early yesterday; 4:20 am to be exact.  Between the early start time (the Hubster is a night owl) and the fact that it was looking like at least a 15 hour day and the dog's bladder is only rated for 12 hours, we had decided that the Hubster should sit this one out as a spectator.  As I pointed the (fully-loaded) Subaru in a Mankato-ly direction at 5 am, I decided that there were up sides and down sides to traveling alone to a competition.  Sure, it's fun to have someone to talk to in the car (and to keep me awake), and it's always great to have the Hubster at a competition...but as someone who is rigidly obsessive about somewhat fond of my routines and rituals, I also love driving to workouts and competitions alone, for a couple of reasons.

First, there's the music.  I have one playlist that I listen to every time I drive to a workout or competition (skating or CrossFit).  I may add songs to the playlist throughout the year, and I tend to create a new playlist for the upcoming year every spring during the skating off-season...but in general, I listen to the same pre-workout music for a year (like I said, I like my routines.  And apparently I have a massive tolerance for repetition).  And since after about, oh, a week, I know the songs very well, I like to sing along with them.  Very badly.  And very loudly.  And since my playlist only has about 36 songs--and some I reserve for the drive home from workouts--I have to repeat the songs many times on long drives.  I'm pretty sure that upon hearing me launch into "Sexy Bitch" at top volume for the third time in an hour most passengers would be ready to fling themselves out the window at 65 miles per I don't sing when I have passengers.

But it's a big sacrifice.

The other issue is the temperature, and here I'm less concerned about my passenger's comfort.  Between perimenopause and a well-medicated thyroid, I tend to always run a little warm--and when I get one of my 20-or-so-per-day hot flashes, we're talking red zone heat.  Since I usually have to just put up with hot flashes, I love being in the car where I can crank the air whenever I want, to whatever temp I want, and thus stop the hotflashes dead in their sweaty little tracks.  So if my passengers complain (through blue lips and chattering teeth) about frostbite, I just tell them "suck it up, Buttercup, that's what sweatshirts and wool socks are for."  But it's nice, sometimes, to just crank that air whenever I want without feeling bad about my passenger's comfort.

So the drive down to Mankato was happily filled with bad singing, loud music, and cold air, and everything went great--until I hit the detour.  Apparently the turn I needed was within the detoured section, so when I got back on the highway after the detour I was past where I needed to be and was clearly heading for the wilds of Southern Minnesota.  Thanks, though,  to my smartphone and my "Chronic Hyperpunctuality" (I feel compelled to always be early), I still managed to get to the competition before registration even opened.

At registration, I got my T-shirt and swag bag (filled with protein powder and various pre-workout performance-enhancing substances) and got my arm marked; apparently the competition organizers were concerned about misplacing a CrossFitter or two.
My first "temporary tattoo."

Then I set up SISU Camp on the floor of the "warm up gym" and waited for my teammates to arrive.  Ah, here they are:
Bobby, Chris, John, Josh, Monica, Jessica, and me.
A great group to hang out with!

Women's Rec, my category, was first up on the schedule, so after a quick warmup and a very thorough briefing by the (very nice and extremely patient) official, we were led to the gym for WOD #1--hang cleans and front squats.
Briefing the Scaled folks.  Poor guy had to do this about 20 times
throughout the day--and we all had a million questions.

I was nervous, of course, but not actually too bad.  I'm used to competing because of skating races, and I knew the weight--55 pounds--was pretty light. My big concern was whether I'd be able to do the lifts quickly; I tend to be rather slow and deliberate about physical tasks, especially those that involve lifting things that I might drop on myself.

To my surprise, though, I was able to move quickly through the cleans...
Yes, I'm rockin' the therapeutic neoprene knee sleeve.
Nothing screams "I'm old" quite as loudly
as sporting one of these bad boys in
an athletic event.

..and the squats.
See that wall ball on the plate behind me?
We had to move that to a new plate 
between each of the three rounds
 of cleans and squats.

And when the dust settled, it appeared that I had moved quickly enough to finish the WOD in first place; I beat the Speedy Strong Young Thing (SSYT) next to me by three seconds, 1:51 to her 1:54.

Then I got to watch my teammates.  I don't have photos of Josh or John or Monica and Jessica in the WOD, but here are Chris and Bobby killing WOD #1...

...and sisters Monica and Jessica, looking ready to take on the Scaled WOD.

And then it was time for WOD #2.  This one was described as a "skills test" (or something like that): one minute each of situps, air squats, box step-ups, and 35 pound snatches.  This one was kind of fun.

The situps were, well, situps.  Not much to say about them.
The fastest situps I've ever done in my life.  You can see the box and bar 
waiting for me, and that's SSYT on my right.

The squats were fun.  At the time.  Not so much today.
I felt pretty good about the air squats; 
54 in a minute, and someone told me afterwards
that they looked "crisp."  I'm assuming that's
a good thing.

The box step-ups (we were forbidden from jumping) were fine...
Note to self: if you consistently step up "right foot first"
for a whole minute, your right leg will hate you the next day.

...until they weren't.
No, I'm not attempting the "Box Puke-Over;" I tripped
and I'm trying to avoid a face plant.

This happened twice.  I'm beginning to see the wisdom
of forbidding us from jumping.

And finally, the snatches.  Coach Alye, who was cheering us on and providing advice during the morning, warned me not to let go of the bar, since it would feel so light.  A good warning, too...
Nothing says "badass" like flinging an empty bar overhead, eh?

To my surprise (OK, I admit it, and delight), I was first in WOD #2 as well, by 2 reps--157 to SSYT's 155.

Score another one for "old!"

We had a bit of a break before WOD #3, so I decided to eat something; so far I'd been subsisting on BCAA's, protein shakes, and a banana.  So I had some of my "chicken, apple and celery" salad, which I usually have post-workout.  It was really good, but I made myself stop at half of it, in deference to the upcoming "Deadlifts and Burpees" WOD.  

Turns out that was a good decision.

I wasn't too worried about this WOD because the deadlifts were extremely light--65 pounds--and Burpees are, well, Burpees.  They're going to suck no matter what.We only had to do 15-12-9 of each of them, so I decided that speed would be the deciding factor in this WOD.

Did you know that it's possible to "go out too fast" in a Burpee workout, just as it is in a skating race?

I didn't know that. 

 I do now.

I blazed through the first 15 deadlifts and Burpees, and the next 12 deadlifts and three of the 12 Burpees.  And then I died.

I'm quite familiar with the sensations associated with going out too fast in a skating race; the burning lungs, heavy legs, and "shoot me now" feeling.  Going out too fast in Burpees, though, was a novel experience; I usually approach them very slowly and deliberately in WOD's at SISU.  Suddenly, your legs will no longer jump out and back in--in fact, you can barely get them to step; that one-inch high plate you're jumping onto morphs into a 20 inch box and you're no longer jumping, you're stepping onto it; your lungs burn, your arms don't work...and Burpees are now threatening to turn into Pukies. 

Good thing I only had half the chicken salad...and good thing I don't have any photos of this WOD.  In the end, SSYT kicked my butt by 24 seconds, 3:01 to 3:25.  And I hate to admit it, but when I could see her pass me (moving to deadlifts while I was still Burpee-ing), I experienced the same mental give-up that I often get in skating when my opponent passes me.  I hate head-to-head competition so I'm surprised I survived until WOD #3 before my being right next to my main competitor got into my head.  Oh, well...something to work on for next time.

So after the three events I was in first and SSYT was in second.  The event organizers had announced that the top six competitors from each division would do a fourth WOD, which they were keeping secret.  And since there were only six of us in Women's Rec, we were all doing WOD #4.  Which turned out to be thrusters.

Now, let me pause for a moment here to discuss thrusters.  For those who don't CrossFit, thrusters are a nice whole-body movement involving squatting with a bar, then standing up and thrusting the bar overhead (hence the name).  For me, thrusters fall into the category of "things that make my left shoulder hurt;" anything that involves lowering a bar from overhead is a sure way to tick off my shoulder.  In fact, thrusters are the main reason that I signed up in the Rec category instead of scaled; on some competition websites (although not Mayhem's), 65 pound thrusters are listed in the Women's Scaled category.  So I signed up Rec in fear of 65 pound thrusters, and this seemed to be a good idea.  Last week in WOD's at SISU I ended up doing 35 pound thrusters (with some shoulder pain), and having to limit jerks (where we also had to lower the bar to our shoulders after each one) to 50 pounds because of shoulder pain.

So, what did "Secret WOD #4" contain?

Yup, that's right...65 pound thrusters.


The WOD went like this:  run to the bar, do 15 thrusters with the 35 pound bar.  Run back down the mats, pick up two 5-pound plates, run back to the bar and put them on.  Do 10 thrusters with 45 pounds.  Run back down the mats, grab two 10 pound plates, run back, put them on...and do five 65-pound thrusters.

Oh, well, I thought, if lowering it hurts too much I can always drop the bar after each one and clean it up again for the next thruster.  At least, I thought that until our long-suffering "briefing official" told us, very firmly, that dropping the bar from overhead would not be allowed.


Oh, well...nothing to do but give it my best and see what happened.

So I did.  As I expected, the 35 pound thrusters were no problem.  Nor were the 45 pounders...unless you count not being able to keep the bar level.
Go ahead, try to guess which arm is stronger...

When we finished the 45-pound thrusters and headed down the mats to grab our 10-pound plates, SSYT and I were basically neck-and-neck...
SSYT has picked up her plates and started back; I'm just picking mine up

Then it was back to the bar, to put the plates on as quickly as I could.

Apparently (and this may surprise the SISU coaches who are used to seeing me fumble around with bars and plates) I rock at putting 10-pound plates on a bar, because I finished assembling my 65-pound bar and started the thrusters slightly before SSYT did.

I squat-cleaned the bar...

...pushed it up overhead...

..and then mentally grimaced as I began lowering the bar and waited for the familiar pain.
"Mentally grimaced?"  Who am I kidding?
I'm the queen of goofy expression...

Which never came!  To my huge surprise, I had no shoulder pain whatsoever (note to self: apparently I need to warm up for overhead stuff by doing 15 35-pound thrusters and 10 45-pound thrusters as fast as I can).  So I finished up the five thrusters, then flung the bar down and headed for the "finish line."
Fling and go, baby!

Not much of a sprinter, but I'm doing my best...

And to my great delight, I arrived at the finish line first.
Post-WOD "I think I won" euphoria.

Turns out I won WOD #4 by 12 seconds, 2:01 to 2:13, and thus won Women's Rec.
SSYT and I on the podium.

So I was happy; very happy.  And today I'm sore; very sore.  Despite that, the first thing I did this morning was to hobble to the computer and sign up for another competition, a team even in New Ulm in mid-August.  Jessica and I will be doing Scaled, and I can't wait.

Even if it turns out there are 65-pound thrusters.

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