Ashley killing the hspu
Karen with her favorite, overhead lunges
Martin and Mark cycling box jumps
The Cave sent a Masters team to the Reindeer Games at Crossfit Adventure in Concord on Saturday, December 14. The team consisted of Ashley R., Karen L., Mark A. and Martin H. Coach Bo W. came along for emotional support. Rich L. and Sandy S. came along to cheer and take pictures, thank you!
There were five WODs on the schedule, four of which were published about two weeks prior to the event. What was surprising was not such much the content of the WODs, but how much time and energy spent Ashley spent analyzing and strategizing the best way to optimize the team’s performance for each WOD. She had a spreadsheet, several pages of notes, multiple emails and texts to the team, as well as an illustrated guide to the best transition techniques. Don’t you have anything else to do? She also made our team t-shirts, tank tops and sports bras, which are awesome by the way. Everyone needs to enter a competition just to earn the right to own one!
The day started out reasonably well in that we all showed up at The Cave, our rally point, at the agreed upon time of 6am. While we snuck into the gym to appropriate a couple of kettlebells and a jump rope for Mark, we got a sneak peek at the new-look Crossfit area (if you haven’t seen it, it looks awesome!) The trip to Crossfit Adventure was unadventurous, although Bo seemed to tire of the uninterrupted chatter from his much older companions, but with his constant stoicism it was hard to tell.
After arriving, we set up our tent, complete with blankets, chairs, foam rollers, barbell, plates, food, drink, PVC bar and kettlebells. It was a lot of stuff. The only thing we forgot to bring was a heater because it was frigid outside and that’s where we would be spending a lot of time waiting. Fortunately, one of the neighboring tents had the foresight to bring a gas patio heater, so we were able to leech some heat from them.
Our first WOD was a sled drag: first person had to drag 25# 200m, the next person 50# 100m, the next 85# 60m and the last 120# 40m, all within a 10 minute time cap, with any remaining time used to do squat clean thrusters with an axle bar for total load. All of us had practiced the sled drag earlier in the week and we thought we were ready. Oh how wrong we were. Our first stop after setting up our tent was the porta-potty, and conveniently right next to the porta-potty, the sled drag was set up. Only these were no ordinary sleds, they were more like friction generating machines. We met the guy who made them and he cavalierly described them as “evil torture devices”, a description that would prove to be shockingly accurate during the WOD. The “sleds” were made of a tire (lying flat on the ground) with a cleverly affixed pipe standing vertically on a plywood platform that was bolted to the top of the tire. Dragging a rubber tire on asphalt is not easy. All of us were reduced to a trembling mass of tears by the time we had finished our respective legs. And then we faced up to the axle squat clean thrusters … and of course all of us had very little experience with an axle bar, so we were in new territory again. Fortunately, the sled had eaten up most of our time, so time suffering under the axle was short. We finished a distant fourth. Ugh.
Our second WOD was also strength biased, sort of like a Crossfit Total, except each team member had to do a different lift. Ashley did the shoulder press, Karen the clean, Mark the back squat and Martin the deadlift. We had 12 minutes and two bars to work with to each establish our respective 1RM. The team was apparently pumped up because we all PR’d! Still, this was only good enough for fifth. Things were not looking good and Martin started to cry.
Our third WOD was a chipper with a 16 minute time cap:
200 double unders
70 HSPU60 wall balls 20/14
50 box jumps 30/24
40 shoulder to overhead 95/65
30 KB snatch and OH lunge 44/26
20 weighted pistols 44/26
10 rope climbs 12ft
… and then back up again
To cut a 16 minute story short, we got no-repped about 20 times, Ashley tried to start a debate in the middle of the WOD with our judge, Martin had no sense of urgency on the first rope climb but Mark’s quick first step saved us all, Karen rocked out the shoulder to overhead and showed that full range of motion on weighted pistols was child’s play, Ashley put her abs on display for all while repping out sets of 10 HSPU (and there are pictures to prove it), there was a lot of yelling, confusion and excitement … and the team still managed to finish first! Was a comeback in the making?
Our fourth WOD had been graciously programmed by Bo the previous week, so we all knew what we were getting into, which from an emotional standpoint made the whole thing more difficult as we all knew how bad the pain was going to be. The WOD was a relay-style, 4 minute AMRAP for each team member, where the next team member started with the prior one left off: 12 bar burpees and 25 snatches 75/55. We were again afraid that the two really strong teams were going to destroy this WOD because the time domain wasn’t long enough for our endurance to come into play. 16 minutes later, and with Martin writhing on the ground like Mark had just kicked him in the groin, the team was done … we all looked at our judge and we apparently finished second! Only one more WOD to go!
The fifth WOD was a bit complicated. We each had to row 500m, relay style. After the first person got off the rower they had to an AMRAP of C2B pull-ups while the second person was rowing, etc. The last person to row had 90 seconds to complete their AMRAP. There would be two scores, the time to complete the 2,000m row and the total number of C2B. Prior to the WOD, back at the tent, we were all sitting around eating, drinking and discussing the upcoming WOD. Bo declared that we should have Martin go first, then Karen, Mark, Ashley and that we should go at about 90% to save something for the C2B. Ashley disagreed and went to her bag of goodies and produced a notepad, a pencil and a calculator. She made some notes, scribbled them out, did some math, looked at the sky for inspiration and was still working on the optimal solution as we headed to the rowers to start the WOD. So we rowed and we C2B’ed. Just as Ashley had 50m left to row, Martin looked around and saw that no-one else had finished the row either, so he yelled at Ashley: “SPRINT!” Which she did, and it appeared as if we had finished the row first, but the clock said that we finished second by 0.7 seconds. We also finished second on the C2B … good enough to tie for second overall! Of course we soon realized that had we won the row, we would have been outright first overall. The whole team was quick to blame Ashley (as she was last on the rower), but luckily before the first actual, physical stone was thrown (plenty of verbal ones had been hurled her way), it transpired that both Mark and Martin had had 5-10 seconds up their respective short sleeves, so it was really their fault, and in fact Ashley had PR’d her row! It was only then that Ashley said: “I think going in the order Martin, Karen, Mark and then me was the right thing to do”. Really, you just figured that out after the WOD?
So, we were tied for second overall, how were they going to break the tie? Apparently the organizers had not considered the possibility of a tie because there was no pre-established tie-break procedure, so we sent in our best negotiator, Rich, to make magic happen. Among the choices: toss a coin; choose a WOD at random, higher finisher wins; higher finisher in last WOD wins; split the pot; and lastly, Rich’s masterful suggestion: whoever has the most first place finishes wins, a la the Norcal Masters tie-break method. No decision was made at that time (it was about 3:30pm) and the podium presentation was at 5:15pm, so we were told that we would find out at the podium.
So now we had 90 minutes to kill, what to do? Go get a drink of course! We packed up our tent and Sandy found a dive bar nearby on her phone: The Captain’s Chest. It was only 7 minutes way, so off we went. When we arrived, there was a post-it note on the door that said “back in 5 minutes”, and we all stood staring at it in disbelief for 30 seconds before our disappointment evaporated when James the bartender showed up. Two rounds of drinks (thanks Ashley!) and a free round of shots (thanks James!) later, it was approaching 4:45pm and Rich said, “let’s start heading back, we should be there a little early”. So back we went. Martin made a wrong turn and added 3 minutes to the return trip. No big deal.
As we sauntered back casually into the gym, we heard the MC say “… is first in the Master’s division”. Wait, we are in the Master’s division! Sure enough there was an empty spot on the podium! Ashley crashed through the wall of spectators with the rest of us close behind. We jumped up onto the podium yelling “we’re from The Cave, we’re The Cavers, we’re Crossfit Marin, are we third or second??” Standing on the podium we couldn’t tell whether we were higher or lower than the team on the other side. It was only afterwards that we got a look at the height and it turns out we came second (thanks Rich!)
Thank you from the whole team to Bo, Rich and Sandy. Thank you to all who sent their best wishes and who followed along at home. The Cave is a great group of people and we all had a blast. We’ll be back next year and won’t be leaving that 0.7 seconds behind again. Now all we need are some axle bars and some tire sleds …
More photos available: