From Martin H….
The NorCal Masters is a two day competition for Crossfit athletes aged 40 and older. Four athletes from The Cave were lucky enough to get registered (it sells out within a few minutes of registration opening), but only three showed up when the competition started last Saturday: Martin H ., Rich L. and Ashley R. Special thanks to Chad L., Shari M., Leisel W., Karen L., Amanda N., Michael V., Margo T. and Bryan O. for coming out to Craneway Pavilion to support our competitors!
The event consisted of six WODs, four on the first day and two on the second day, after which the top five in each division would go on to the finals. The WODs were released on the Thursday prior, and as we have become accustomed to from the Reindeer Games, Ashley dived into a black hole of WOD analysis for the following 48 hours and did not surface until early Saturday morning after a late Friday evening filled with martinis and an ill-considered DIY dye job on her hair. Probably not the pre-competition regimen recommended by any reputable coach, but come game time on Saturday, Ashley was on!
Craneway Pavilion is an awesome place to have an event like this. It is located in Richmond and sits right on the edge of the bay, with large windows looking out over the water. The building itself is massive and had plenty of space for the competition area and for the athletes to set up their encampments. Martin arrived first after having spent a sleepless night tossing and turning, unable to get shake visions of Bo W. telling him to “try harder” (as an aside, when Bo appears in your dreams, it is time to try some new medication). While Martin was setting up, he overheard someone say “are you with Bryan?” Now, Bryan is a common name, but in the world of Crossfit there really only is one, so Martin turned around and asked: “are you looking for Bryan O.?”. Of course she was! Turns out that as well as Rich, Bryan had two other athletes at the event that he was coaching. Sandy was one (we found out later that she was the seventh woman to summit the highest peaks on all seven continents; talk about having an engine and tolerance to pain) and Jim (a former ballet dancer), who we would meet later, was the other. There are some very intimidating looking people at these events. When Martin checked in for his first heat, he felt like a stick figure next to his fellow competitors. These people are beasts! Very nice beasts, friendly and such, but you would never want to meet any of them in a dark alley at night.
The first WOD was a KB Turkish get-up AMRAP for 3 minutes. 1.5 pood for Martin, 1 pood for Ashley and 1 pood for Rich. It seemed a bit silly on paper, and it was clear who had the movement pattern ingrained in them and who did not. It also generally favored the stronger athletes who were able to manhandle the kettlebell with speed. Rich placed 2nd in this event, while Ashley and Martin placed somewhere in the middle of the field.
The second WOD was alternating minutes of clean and jerks (155/105/115#) and pullups, where the pullups were done with increasing dumbbell weight as the rounds progressed. Although the movements were alternating, they would be scored separately. So how did it go? It was awful. The clean and jerks were soul sucking. As the weights increased, the pullups became a nightmare of failure. All three of our athletes put in a brave performance, and halfway through the first day, Martin was 18th, Rich was tied for 1st (yeah, baby!) and Ashley was 15th. After such a hard WOD, it is always oh-so-tempting to play the age card. Back at The Cave when Ehren H. or Amanda N. crushes us old people in a WOD, we can always say, “well, such-and-such is stronger/faster/better than I am because they are younger”. Not a good excuse here at a Masters event.
The third WOD started with 4 minutes to find our 3RM thruster and then was immediately followed by Death by KB Snatch (1.5/1/1.25 pood) starting at 8 reps, increasing by 2 reps per minute, followed by a 2 minute AMRAP of burpees. The thruster weight was scored as one WOD and the number of completed rounds of KB snatches was scored as another, with burpees being the tiebreaker for the KB snatches. Obviously the thruster is about strength and the KB snatch/burpee is about pain tolerance. Well, we learned that Rich is really strong (he took 3rd in the thrusters), Ashley is impervious to pain (she took 1st in the KB snatch/burpee) and Martin is weak and too dumb to know when to stop (26th and 3rd).
The final WOD of the first day was rowing (yes, excruciating rowing): 1,000m for men (750m for women), then a fixed 1 minute rest, followed by another 500m. Martin, with massive cheering from the whole Cave crew (they were literally yelling in his ear and he is now partially deaf on the left side), somehow finished 1st, Ashley came 16th and Rich 6th. We finished the day with overall placings of 10th, 13th and 6th, respectively. Not a bad showing so far!
The fifth WOD was 4 rounds of sled pushing and 35 double unders and it quickly became apparent that it was really just a double-under contest with some sled pushing for show. A slow sled push might cost 2-3 seconds per round, but each trip on the double-unders put 5-7 seconds on the clock. Martin thought he had a good strategy going in, which was to take it easy on the sled and then save himself for the double-unders … but he was terrible at executing this good strategy as he completely botched his very first double-under, however he then went unbroken until the last round with 10 double-unders to go. At that point, the MC declared “if Martin H. can go unbroken he might be able to catch the leader of this heat”, at which point he tripped twice and wasted a valuable 10 seconds. Although he finished 2nd in his heat, those 10 seconds would matter later in the day. Ashley and Rich both have a hate/hate relationship with double-unders, but on this particular day, their double-unders did not desert them and they managed to skate through this event in the middle of the field.
The last WOD before the finals was 3 rounds of a 10×30m shuttle run, 15 KB swings 2/1.5/1.5 pood and 10 squat snatches 95/65/75#. The standings after this event would determine which athletes would go to the final; the top 5 in each division would be entitled to the pleasure and pain of competing in one more event. During this event, Ashley (for the second competition in a row), demonstrated that she loves a good debate with her judge about movement standards in the middle of a WOD. To be fair, her judge kept being over-ruled by the MC, so neither Ashley nor her judge were ever quite clear as to how many reps she had completed, which was obviously very distracting. Martin, Ashley and Rich finished in 2nd, 9th and 4th in this event, respectively … again demonstrating that us Cavers may not be the biggest and strongest, but we sure love a good, long beating. In the final standings, Martin finished 6th (missing a finals spot by one place, so those 10 seconds in the fifth WOD actually mattered quite a lot), Ashley 13th and Rich 6th (also narrowly missing the finals).
We finished the day off by doing a spot of shopping (head bands, free range grass fed steak and rock tape) and then knocking back a few refreshing beverages at Farm Shop in Larkspur. It was a relaxing end to a great weekend. It was wonderful for the competitors to have so much support from their friends; a good time was had by all! Thanks again to everyone who made the trip out to Craneway, hopefully The Cave will have more of us competing next year!
· Don’t tell Karen that she is entered into a competition until a few days before it starts
· Infect Ashley’s computer with a virus so that she cannot run analysis on the WODs
· Never dye one’s hair the night before competition
· Avoid drinking martinis the night before competition unless in a stable emotional state
· Chad can be 100% relied upon to deliver a cup of beer to an exhausted competitor immediately following a grueling workout
· Amanda is really good at WOD strategy: “just don’t stop”
· Double-unders are evil and can never be trusted
· Good programming will always expose everyone’s weakness(es); work on your goats every day
· Thrusters are evil and can never be trusted
· The middle of a WOD is not the time to start a debate
· Every second and every rep matters
· Rich is always good for a free drink
· Competing with one’s friends is a blast
· Competition is not always about winning, it’s also an opportunity to learn about oneself
· Get out there and compete! (2014 Crossfit Open anyone?)