The Touch, Mr. Fantastic and I set out this weekend to represent CrossFit Empower at the 2016 CanWest Games hosted by Tom & Errol of CrossFit Rocky Point. Most other Vancouver CrossFit gyms were represented along with athletes from northern BC, Alberta, Manitoba, Vancouver Island and the US.
I set out with 3 burning questions.
The first question: Is the CanWest Games a competition suitable for our CrossFit Empower members? Is it safe, fun, well run and worth the invested time and effort. The answer to this question is a resounding yes!
Percy Perry Stadium is a spectacular top notch facility! This was better than the first CrossFit Regionals hosted at UBC. The view was incredible, the facilities perfect, it felt as though we’d traveled to a far off place to compete at a world class facility yet it was right here a hidden gem in our own back yard!
The equipment supplied by Gorilla Fitness was top notch as well and the whole event was very well run and managed. The directors and volunteers managed to balance a feeling of professionalism with a warm, fun atmosphere that made everyone feel welcome.
There were divisions for every level. Scaled individuals, scaled teams, Intermediate teams, RX’d teams & elite teams, masters 35-39, masters 40-49, masters 50+. Wherever you are at there was a division for you. And the events themselves were well thought out with a variety of scaling options. The volume was just right leaving me exhausted after 6 events but not destroyed. I was tender everywhere Monday morning but not banged up at all. A very sane program.
The action never stopped. With 3-4 events running simultaneously in different corners of the huge stadium there was always action and entertainment and yet with the covered seating and the green trees, there was always a cool shady place to lay down and recover between events.
It was fun to run into friends old and new and meet people from all over. We competed intensely but everyone was helpful and friendly ready to cheer each other on and offer each other pointers. This is a hallmark of the CrossFit community that I hope never changes. Whether you finish first or last there was no athletic snobbery.
Here’s how the weekend went:
Drove in with Mr. Fantastic. He and I started with the OHS & Pull Up event. His was the very first heat of the CanWest Games and he took an early lead in the OHS and never relinquished it. My greatest rush of the weekend was hearing the announcers calling out “Mr. Fantastic of CrossFit Empower is in the lead and it’s CrossFit Empower finishing first place!” It took him 2:53 to smash the WOD and give us the first win of the weekend.
Adventure & Shades came out to support us and cheer us on!
I was next up and feeling confident in this event. My previous test I completed at 4:30, I felt I could get a 3:45. And who was my first judge at my first event but The Natural, my third ever CrossFit client from my CrossFit Vancouver coaching days! 7 years into her CrossFit career and still looking great, Coaching at CrossFit North Vancouver. She warned me that I’d been such a stickler for form that my reps had better all be good. And they were:) Unbroken OHS not a problem and between the powder coating and adrenaline the pull ups were even easier but all around me guys were finishing faster than I could hope to move. I shattered my previous record, finished better than my goal at 3:12 and still only took 9th place. Wow! And this was an event I had expected to do well at.
Unfortunately we missed The Touch’s team tackle this event but I hear they placed 7th. Not bad if you consider these guys just met and had never tested these WODs as a team before.
In between events I did the floater WOD, the shot put. I have no experience and no expectations. Watched some Youtube videos for tips. Threw for 9.53m which was 7th place in my division. Mr. Fantastic threw 8.5m for 6th and The Touch’s team all threw over 10m to claim 2nd. A fun little aside.
The Clean & Jerk was the second event. The Touch’s partners threw up a 265lb & 290lb C&J respectively. The Touch himself with a previous best of 210lbs killed it when he stuck a 225lb clean & jerk for a crushing personal best! Their combined lifts gave them a 4th place finish.
Mr. Fantastic was next easily lifting 190lbs then 210lbs before trying to jump to 225lbs. It was a jump too big. Though he got the barbell up both times he failed to get under it and had to settle for 3rd place.
The head judge was freaked out about me lifting in bare feet. And turned out she was right. As the clouds parted, the previously cool black mats became suddenly scorching. I started conservatively with a safe 225lb lift. Then 235lbs. My feet blistering I asked The Touch to run for my shoes. Luckily there was lots of time to make my next two lifts. 245lbs was easy even though I am not used to lifting with shoes. For my final lift I went for my previous personal best of 255lbs not sure if I could pull it off under pressure. Turns out it was easy. Good enough for 3rd place.
The Touch’s team next did the sandbag run, sled push, rope climb WOD a 10 minute scorcher in the hot afternoon sun. Here The Touch’s speed and climbing really paid off. Their judge was cranky and penalized one of the partners 10 burpees for a perceived infraction which I don’t think was accurate but despite the set back they took 3rd place in the event.
Mr. Fantastic also took 3rd in this one to finish off the day in 2nd place overall.
I’d been dreading this event. I knew it would be one of my weaker WODs. My goal was 5 rounds in 10 minutes or 2 minutes per round and I just managed to hit that goal which gave me 10th place. Tough way to end the day realizing that my best performances were still far from the top of my division.
But scores notwithstanding, Saturday was super fun and we headed home tired but enthusiastic looking forward to another fun day Sunday.
Feeling pretty good. Body ready for some more WODs. Sunghee & Kaelin came with me. Unfortunately the first event was another one that emphasized my weaknesses. In testing I failed to finish it within the time cap. Winning not likely, finishing was my only goal. Today I wore shoes for the black mat surface even though they mess with my double unders. They weren’t my best double unders but they weren’t too bad. I got through 100 in 3 or 4 sets adrenaline giving my lungs extra life. I finished the doubles in middle of the pack. Straight into 40 KB snatches which I completed unbroken. So how did so many guys get to the burpee box jump overs before me? I can’t tell you. Just like the OHS unbroken was not good enough, everyone else was somehow moving at a faster speed. Especially on the burpee box jump overs. These things just kill me! I will be subbing them in for burpees a lot over the next year until I unravel the mystery of why they completely unravel my breathing. Most of the guys were done by the time I reached the deadlift but they didn’t abandon me, they were all there cheering me on and urging me to finish. I had 1 minute left, better than the 20 seconds I’d had in training and more than enough to get done 20 deadlifts or so I thought. My body thought otherwise. To go unbroken would have put my back at risk as my core was breaking down. Perhaps I could have finished the deadlifts but I might not have been able to continue the competition. Instead broke them up and ran out of time with 5 reps remaining. Better than in testing but didn’t hit my goal of finishing and also finished last place, the only guy in my division who failed to complete the WOD:(
Mr. Fantastic on the other hand was all over this one! His skipping was superb and gave him an early lead. Like me his KB snatches were good but not as fast as some of the competitors and he was passed in the burpee box jump overs. Unlike me, he killed the deadlift catching up and passing several competitors to finish 3rd again! We’d expected this to be a tougher WOD for him so it was a great way to start the day!
The Touch’s team did this one as their last WOD at day’s end. For the teams it involved tandem deadlifts and synchronized movements something the other teams had practiced but he and his team mates could not since they hailed from different parts of BC. Team work, planning and communication was key in the transitions and though in medal contention leading into the WOD, a 7th place finish crushed their hopes of making the podium:(
The 2K Row was next up for us. The Touch & team had done this as a run row and as you might expect the Touch’s speed on the field gave them an advantage as they secured 3rd place right on the heels of team number 2 and miles ahead of 4th.
Mr. Fantastic had not expected to excel on the row but placed 3rd in his division! Another great performance:)
The row is not my event so I practiced the 2K a lot in the week leading up to competition experimenting with varying stroke rates. I felt that this paid off. My previous best was 7:13. The heat ahead of me one guy scored 6:38 which is BFG territory. The guys to my left and right who would later end up on the podium finished before me at 7:01 & 7:02 making me look slow but I felt good as I crossed the finish at 7:07.2 a solid best performance for me on the row and once again only good enough for 10th place.
Now for the first time I began to feel exhausted. I mean really drained! My hamstrings on the row felt the effort of my earlier deadlifts. Now my legs felt done. I’d looked forward to the final event as a possibly good one for me but now I was feeling rather spent.
The Touch’s team took on this 2 partner WOD securing 7th place on the first and second half.
Watching the heat before me, I worried about finishing my wall balls in time but the second part it looked possible to finish HSPU & cleans in under 8 minutes although no one did complete. I would have loved to be the only guy to complete it. That is my jam!
Once again adrenaline overcame fatigue and allowed me to go unbroken on 20 T2B with no trouble. I did the wall balls in two sets: 35 & 15 finishing at 2:31 well before the time cap I’d been so worried about and also in last place for the second time this weekend!
We had two and a half minutes to recover. Not enough time. I blasted through the first set of cleans well ahead of everyone, our gymnastics coach Jen Dober cheering me on from the stands. My first set of HSPU’s went as planned. But then it was 2’s & 3’s. I was exhausted. And I wasn’t alone. All around me guys were struggling. The black matting was scorching our hands and heads.
I struggled through another set of cleans like a man in slow motion as the clock wound down. Made it back to HSPU but without much left in the tank. Missed some reps as I tried to keep going. Managed to squeeze out one last shaky rep before the buzzer to complete 66 of 90 reps. 2nd time today I failed to meet my goal of finishing the WOD but this time I was not alone as no one in my division completed it. My score was good enough for 5th place.
Mr. Fantastic was up last and finished much the way he started the weekend: strong. In the video you can clearly see him finish his wall balls first but somehow the guy behind him on the right was awarded 1st and he got 2nd. In the second half he finished 3rd overall.
And that was the end of the day. I came in seeded as 15th in my division and managed to finish 10th overall. The Touch’s team took 6th and Mr. Fantastic stood on the podium to receive 2nd place in his first ever CrossFit competition! A proud moment indeed:)
All my questions were answered. Yes, the CanWest Games is an amazing event! All it was missing was you! Wish you were here to enjoy it with us. Next year I hope you will come participate too, it will be so fun to have a whole CrossFit Empower team representing Dunbar Street in all the various divisions.
My other questions: Would my body hold up to a weekend of competition? Yes, it did. I was tired by day’s end but not destroyed. Stiff and tender Monday but not too beat up to do a little WOD. Great to know.
Question three: how does my current fitness level compare with other top competitors my age? Answer: not so hot. Not a surprise really, I was ranked 15th of 15 going in. My main weakness is my engine. No surprise there. My strength is competitive, my skills are solid but I cannot yet hit the speeds that the top guys can hold. We already had this written into my athlete development plan so I’ve got my homework for the year.
Thank you CrossFit Rocky Point and CanWest directors Tom & Errol for hosting this incredible event. Thanks to all the volunteers who dedicated their time so we could have a wonderful weekend playing!
Thank you to the CrossFit Empower community for supporting us and cheering us on!