The timing was just not right. : (
I really wanted to do my first CrossFit Group Session and WOD with the coach that guided me through the CrossFit Fundamentals course, as I figured she would be able to scale the WOD for me without hesitation and would know what I know/don’t know in terms of lifts, my form (or lack thereof), etc.
But my Fundamentals coach wasn’t doing any sessions today. So I signed up for the 4:30 session, coached by the fellow who administered the Baseline WOD to me last Monday. I knew I was in for pain. Alas, I just jest – he turned out to be a very helpful coach, and within minutes of the session starting, he knew he’d have his hands full helping me…
So I show up 15 minutes early. I walk in and there are about 10 people standing around in the ‘foyer’ (the actual workout area/’box’ is behind a glass wall/doorway and the ‘foyer’ contains some side-rooms, t-shirt/swag stand, and check-in desk. The reason everyone was hanging out in the foyer instead of warming up inside was because there was a CrossFit Kids session in progress, and apparently non-parents aren’t allowed in there until they’re done.
So I look around while waiting, and immediately notice that every freakin person in there, waiting to go in for the same session as me, was absolutely ripped. We’re talking natural ripped – not steroids/ Schwarzenneger. Both men and women. Most in their mid-20’s max. A couple older folks. All were in impeccable shape. I was nervous.
Just then, I notice an obese lady waiting too. I was thrilled, figuring I wouldn’t be the slowest and weakest in the session…until the CrossFit Kids session ends and her kid comes out and they leave.
So we go inside and the coach, an exhuberant fellow, guides us through a warm-up consisting of:
- 400m run
- Those bend-over to touch your toes then walk-out your hands to push-up position, do the push-up, then walk your hands back, keeping your knees as straight as possible for as long as possible.
- Spidermans (these are a very difficult stretch, where you pose on the ground like Spiderman)
- Some arm circles
I was already pretty nervous about this whole thing. And my gut was still grumbling from the big-ass sweet potato I ate too quickly a couple hours prior. So I was already short of breath by the time the 400m run was over, and I started to sweat. The run wasn’t very long so I would have been fine had I not been so nervous or had an upset stomach.
Then, with the warm-up complete, the coach talked us through today’s WOD:
5 Rounds for Time…
5 Hand stand push-ups
10 Hang power snatch (115/75#)
20 Double unders
Truth be told, although probably not in the spirit of CrossFit, I did look on the WOD blog
earlier today and knew that this WOD almost couldn’t have been a worst first one for me. I’m sure there are many harder ones, but push-ups (let alone handstand ones), then one of the more complicated olympic lifts, and then double-unders: jumping rope so that the rope goes around TWICE for each jump. I hadn’t jumped a rope much ever in my life.
The coach spent a good deal of time talking us through how to do the Hang Power Snatch correctly. I followed along and felt like I knew what I was supposed to do, but as I found out during Fundamentals, knowing what to do and doing it are two different things. He must have sensed that I was clueless and asked me if I had tried these before, which is when I told him this was my first class and I’d never done any olympic weightlifting. He then had everyone practice a bit – by this time there was at least 15 or 20 ‘athletes’ there, and space was pretty darn tight. Especially when you consider everyone’s throwing down the weights when done, jumping rope, etc. I’m surprised more people don’t get hurt – I felt like I almost hit the coach once when doing a rep of the power snatch.
During the practice reps, I stuck to the bar only. The coach came over and worked with me for a few minutes and then told me to stick with just the 45lb bar and focus on form, and if he saw it was too light for me he’d add some weight during the WOD. I knew there was no way I could handle any weight on the bar yet…
After that, the coach urged everyone to really try to do the Double Unders and not wimp out. I got the sense that a lot of folks don’t bother and just go for standard ‘single under’ jump rope.
Starting The WOD
Next thing I know, it’s “3-2-1-GO!”.
First up is the handstand push-ups. The coach had mentioned that there were 3 levels of ‘scale’ if you couldn’t do the real handstand PUs – first was to use a lumbar-looking pad thing that rests under your head. I don’t get how that scales anything – looks to me it just makes it so if you fall you won’t crack your head as it’ll just bonk onto the padding of this thing. He then said the next level of scale is to do a “Stinkbug” – basically a push-up in the pike position. Last option for scaling was to use a box to support your lower body.
He came over right away and told me to do the Stinkbug style. I did alright with them the first round of five, though they were much harder than regular pushups. I then went to the power snatch and struggled at first but eventually got the hang. The coach spent quite a bit of time with me at that point. 10 reps, plus add 4 or 5 more that he said weren’t right so I re-did, and it was on to the Double Unders. I really screwed myself with these. I should have just ignored his plea for everyone to really try the Double Unders and just do regular jump-rope. But, like a buffoon, I was attempting the Double Unders. And I’m lucky I didn’t Double Over…Eventually, I was able to do a real Double Under once every 2 or 3 tries, but only for a single jump. I’d then lose momentum and trip. And this constant struggling to do them really took a lot out of me, particularly as the rounds continued.
By the time round 1 was finished, I was toast and I knew it. I was sweating like a pig, and gasping for breath. Still, I pushed on. Once in a while the coach would come over and try to inspire me. The first couple of rounds he did. By the third round, I was in a daze. Not truly dizzy or sick or anything. Just spent. Fortunately, I had the discipline to just keep going, but with a healthy dose of leaning over and taking breaths, short pauses.
I finally get to the 3rd round. I look around and see that half of the people are already done. I remember thinking, “These fucking people are freaks of nature!” To put it in better perspective – I was the ONLY one I noticed that didn’t have the prescribed 115lb (men) or 75lb (women) on their bar.
By the end of the 3rd round, doing the jump rope and still trying double unders every 5 or 6 revolutions (a major mistake), I was so drained I wasn’t sure I could finish. But I knew there was no way I was quitting. No fucking way. I asked during the Intro session if there was a portable defibrilator on site and the coach said there was and they were trained on how to use it. I wasn’t that bad today but it crossed my mind.
The coach comes by and asks me what round I’m on. I tell him 3. He tells me 4 will be my last, as there is a 20-minute time limit. I didn’t argue.
The 4th round (for me – most everyone else was done) starts and I am doing the box-assisted handstand pushups. I’m hurting bad. I could barely get on/off the box. I stumbled through the pushups and then did the power snatches. The coach kept coming over and checking my form and this round he kept saying I had it down, but I could tell it wasn’t great. I was too weak by this time to do it right. On to the Double Unders and by the 20th single revolution, after some failed attempts at true double unders thrown in, the coach tells me to quit trying double unders and just do single. I forgot to mention that if you don’t do double unders you have to do 60 single jump rope revolutions. I got on a roll and, maybe it was knowing the pain was almost at an end, I nailed the final 20 jumps in a row.
With the WOD done, the coach had us put the equipment away and then he led us through some stretches.
With the session over, he came over and asked me if I was okay. I said yeah and he replied, “Are you dizzy?” LOL. I was so weak I couldn’t laugh. But I could tell he was concerned as I was so spent by then that I couldn’t muster any emotion in my face to let him know I was okay. He told me to hang out a bit after the WOD before getting into my car but I had to get home to take my son to baseball, so no chilling out and watching everyone else put themselves through torture for me.
I got home and then went to the baseball field with my son and was still sweating like crazy, still recuperating for about 45 minutes. I then decided to walk (there is an excellent walking/running track at this park). I figured it would mitigate soreness and I felt like moving (believe it or not) anyway. I walked for about 40 minutes and started to feel great. Humiliated at how weak I was, and how poorly I felt I did on the WOD. But then it hit me – I’m 40 years old, in the best shape of my life, and I’m CrossFitting. I’m a fucking CrossFitter. A sorry excuse for one, but one nonetheless.
The coach told me, after I assured him I was okay, that “it gets easier.” I don’t really believe him. My competitive nature will just make me push harder. At this point I could give a shit about time or points (all CrossFit workouts are timed or scored). But it will bother me if I’m not at least completing the workout with scaling. Today I only finished 4 of the prescribed 5 rounds. Not cool. I will keep pushing and hopefully within a month or two I will be at least getting through the complete workout, even if scaled heavily.
Next WOD will be Saturday. And wouldn’t you know it – I just checked tomorrow’s WOD (it is posted at 10pm precisely the evening before) and it plays to all my ‘strengths’. Oh well. Hopefully the luck will be with me for my next WOD, which will be Saturday.
Tomorrow’s WOD –
AMRAP in 20 Minutes of: (AMRAP = As Many Rounds As Possible)
10 Chest to Bar Pullups
20 Pistols (10R/10L)
30 Box Jumps (24″/20″)
Teams of TWO with ONE person working at a time
The workout can be broken up in any way. Athletes can alternate rounds or break up each individual round as they see fit. If a three person team needs to be created, the rep scheme should be 15, 30, 45 with two people working at a time.