Go Green Get Fit Challenge: Feats of Strength and Airing of Grievances

Back in May I did my first CrossFit competition. It was a friendly in-house competition but I shocked myself by having the stamina and strength to actually play with the big boys (and girls).

I knew the Festivus Games, the only CrossFit games for intermediates and beginners, was happening right smack in the middle of Blogher, the largest annual blogging conference for which I had bought tickets a year in advance. And up until a couple weeks prior I had resigned myself to missing the games. But then I realized it is entirely possible that I could be pregnant the next time a competition roles around. I wasn’t missing it. I’ll take the Bolt Bus home after two days of the conference and arrive squarely in time for a little bit of sleep before game day – with a cold of course, but what do you expect living with a preschooler?

When the WODs were released a week ahead they looked pretty straight forward. Both the beginners and intermediates would compete in a 2000 meter row for time and max one rep deadlift. I hadn’t done a ton of rowing and my deadlift form was shit so I knew I needed to practice.

The main difference between the two divisions was in the third WOD, a “chipper.” You have 10 minutes to complete as many rounds as possible of the following: 10 burpees / 20 pull ups (jumping for beginners) / 30 sit ups / 40 kettlebell swings (higher weight for intermediate) / 50 squats / 200 jump ropes (double-unders for intermediates).


My first assigned WOD was the deadlift, which I was least nervous about. Either I can lift it or I can’t, right? Turns out, I can lift a lot more than I thought. 175 lbs to be exact – possibly even a bit more if time hadn’t run out. That put me around 19/27 in the beginners category and I was quite happy with that – especially considering some of these women were lifting 250+ (beginner my butt!)

Good Rep?

My next test was the 2000 meter row. I had never rowed more than about 400 meters so my game plan was to just put on some motivating music and hit it. Holy crap was that hard! I had sweat and TEARS running down my face – you simply can not stop when hundreds of people are shouting at you to “ROW!” Did I mention the gym was about 150 degrees that day? I somehow finished with a respectable score of 9:41. Then I promptly collapsed for about 10 minutes.


If you row fast, no one can see you crying


My final WOD was the chipper – and where I totally lost any small edge I might have had over anyone. I expected to fly through the jumping pull-ups as I usually do during bootcamp. However, the standards for this game were quite a bit different. The box I had to jump from was about 2-3 inches lower than I was used to. So basically, I needed to be 2-3 inches taller to easily get my chin over the bar. And that is when the strictest judge in the competition, who of course was assigned to me, started calling “No rep.” Over and over until I gradually got one, two, three successful pull ups over the bar. I had to get to 20. I probably jumped about 50 times.


No rep!


And so my time was wasting and my motivation was crumbling. I managed to finish the rest of the round without any unexpected mishaps apart from being extra exhausted from the useless jumping. But I only managed another 3 points after the round giving me a score of 353 for the WOD while most people had closer to 400. I finished 26/27 for the WOD and by the way the scoring went it stuck me 26/27 for the division.

Yeah, yeah, it shouldn’t matter. A year ago I couldn’t lift a laundry basket and I should be glad I got through it all. And I am. I’m just a bit competitive in everything I do so it’s hard not to analyze my mistakes and where I could have gained a few extra points. Now I know how it feels to be Aly Raisman. No, not at all actually, apart from the fact that we are both Jews.

Truly though, it was an amazing experience. And I had this to say on my Facebook page which really sums it up:

“I know I’m boring some of you with my CrossFit posts but I just have to say one last thing: What an unexpected blessing to finally discover in my 30s what it means to be part of an athletic team. It was something I never aspired to and never knew what I was missing. I feel so lucky to add this dimension to my life – it’s never too late to discover your potential.”

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