After four challenging weeks and workouts the final workout of the 2016 CrossFit Open is upon us. I’ve had an absolute blast competing in the Open so far but I am also ready for it to be over. Having only three days to complete each workout was kind of a pain and I felt like a lot of my weekend plans had to be rearranged to accommodate the Open workouts. So it’ll be nice to have my weekends to myself again.
CrossFit Open Workout 16.5 is Open Workout 14.5…
21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps of
Thrusters (95 lbs)
Burpee over the bar
(21 thrusters, 21 burpees, 18 thrusters, 18 burpees…etc.)
Yup. Needless to say it, but this workout is a BEAST! In total you’ll be completing 84 thrusters and 84 burpees for a grand total of 168 movements as fast as you can. Upon the announcement of this workout I knew I’d be entering some dark places, as entering pain cave in 16.5 is imminent.
Pain Cave: A place where an athlete goes during competition, when they are exhausted, everything hurts, and the mind says quit, but the athlete pushes on and eventually emerges from its darkness.
This workout was going to suck! I knew the key to doing well is to pace accordingly. If the bar feels heavy during the thrusters early on, drop it. No need to fight for one more rep when completing 21, 18, or 15 reps. If possible it’d be best to conserve that grit and fight to do the sets of 9, 6, and 3 unbroken (maybe 12 too). Therefore my initial plan was to break up the thrusters into smaller sets that would allow me get through them at a good pace with small breaks in between sets. As for the burpees, my strategy was to keep moving and never stop. Once my chest hits the ground push it back up, get over the bar and remember to breath.
I was scheduled to perform 16.5 Friday afternoon, which worked out perfectly because my girlfriend and I were out horseback riding Friday morning for her birthday. She loves horses and has been riding them sense she was a kid. As for me, I don’t love or hate horses but I’ve never ridden one so it was a new experience. The horseback riding was great, except for the fact that my horse the calmest horse at the ranch that’s perfect for beginners got freaked out by a small flock of geese…As we crested a small hill there were 4 geese sitting in a pond and once they saw the horses they began to honk and fly away. Next thing I knew my horse was running down a side path towards some trees, he began to buck and down I went. That wasn’t the end of it. After I had fallen off of the horse I took a glancing kick from the horse from the top left side of my rib cage down to my hip. Luckily most of the pressure from the kick was located in the soft non bony portion of my midsection between my ribs and my hips, resulting in no broken bones. I was quite sore in the hip and side but other than that I felt okay. I wrangled up some courage and got back on the horse to finish off the ride.
After horseback riding my girlfriend and I headed straight to the gym so I could attempt 16.5. Naturally she did not want me to do the workout and told me I should rest. I felt pretty good though all things considered, but I didn’t want to do anything stupid. I did just fall off a horse and didn’t need make anything worse by doing 16.5. Upon arriving at the gym I made sure that my mobility wasn’t significantly impinged and that all my movements felt sound with and without the weight. Most importantly there was no severe pain. I felt good minus the rug burn like scrap down my side which was a little irritating but other than that I was fine to attempt 16.5
My brother mentioned that a guy (Riley) earlier that day did really well with 16.5 by breaking up the thrusters into 3 sets of decreasing reps. On the first set of 21 thrusters, he performed 8-7-6, for the set of 18 thrusters he did 7-6-5, and so on. This made a lot of sense to me at the time. By decreasing the reps by 1 each set, mentally it should be a lot easier to complete all 3 sets of the thrusters vs. doing 3 sets of the same amount of reps (7-7-7, 6-6-6, etc.). I knew I wanted to break up my thrusters and I figured this would be a good way to go about it.
Before I began the workout I set a goal to complete this workout in less than 20 minutes. I figured that should doable and provide me with a pretty solid score.
With my goal set and my game plan ready it was go time. I grabbed hold of the bar and fired off 8 thrusters with ease. I took short breaks and then did 7 thrusters, took another break and then finally 6 thrusters to complete the first 21 reps. This is exactly how I planned to do the first set and I was feeling good. I performed my 3 sets of thrusters relatively quick and with minor amounts of rest. This gave me a false sense of security as I began to think of how I’m going to absolutely own this workout.
I began my set of burpees and maintained a steady consistent pace throughout all 21 reps. Thoughts of doing really well in this workout began to slip away as I did my burpees. Even though I was moving at a steady pace, they seemed to take forever and were extremely taxing on the system
Picking up the bar again I began the second round of the workout. Needing to complete 18 thrusters my plan was to do 3 sets of 7, 6, and 5 reps. I completed 5 reps of thrusters and had to drop the bar…shit. My game plan was already falling apart in the second round. The 95 lb bar got heavy quick and I knew immediately there was no way I’d be performing 18, 15, or 12 reps of thrusters in 3 or less sets. The new game plan was to do as many thrusters as I could before I had to really fight to get it up. I’d save the fighting for the end of the workout. A little discouraged I completed my 18 thrusters in 4 sets of 5, 5, 4, and 4.
Again back to the burpees. Feeling tired already, the burpees dragged on and on. I seriously thought they were never going to end. The pain cave was hovering around me and I was about to dive right on in to it.
In the third round (15 reps) the thoughts of doing well were completely gone. Now the only thought was “how can I survive the rest of this workout”. I was breathing hard, shoulders, triceps, core, and legs were all screaming at me. Every single muscle used in the thruster is used again in the burpee. There is no rest for any part of the body and the exhaustion amplifies itself deeper into the workout. On my third set of burpees I began to have some negative thoughts that I really had to fight through: “why are you here, why are you doing this?”, “you’re not winning anything so this doesn’t really matter, just stop”, “you can quit all you have to do is stop and the pain will be over”. I seriously contemplated stopping but not quitting. Why not take a 5 minute breather? In the big scheme of things my score/time doesn’t really matter. I’m doing the Open just for fun.
That’s when I remembered that yes I am doing the CrossFit Open for fun, but I also signed up to test myself and see what I am capable of. That’s why I was here, to test myself and push beyond my limits. No my score does not matter in the big scheme of things, but it does matter to me. There is no way I am stopping. Not halfway through the workout “you’re tougher than this, you’re better then these thoughts” I told myself as I flushed out all those negative thoughts and pushed on through the rest of the workout.
As I reached the later rounds with lower reps (9, 6, and 3) I really tried hard to fight and do these thrusters unbroken. I knew doing 9 thrusters in a row at this point in the workout would be pushing my limits. I was so fatigued that I ended up breaking the 9 reps up into 3 sets of thrusters. When I would stop to take breaks I tried hard to stand up and take in deep breaths. However I was completely exhausted, I was hunched over hands on my knees with my legs shaking as I tried to catch my breath.
Now on to the second last round with only 6 thrusters, I really thought I’d be able to fight for 6 unbroken thrusters on this round. Unfortunately the fatigue in my muscles was too great. I managed to do 2 strong thrusters, but I really had to fight for the 3rd rep so I figured best to drop the bar. It wasn’t until the final round where I was able to perform all the thrusters unbroken. Granted there were only 3 of them, but they were still extremely tough. Dropping to the floor I tried to do my final 3 burpees as fast as I could, which was quite slow by this point. I was in pure survival mode by the end of the workout.
As soon as my feet hit the ground on my final burpee I did a lap around the gym, found an open spot on the floor and laid down. I was completely spent. I knew that workout was going to be long and tough but I had no idea how tough it truly was. I felt like I was never able to catch my breath throughout the entire workout. And although the weight was relatively light at 95 lbs it began to feel heavy very quickly. Even though every round the amount of reps decreased by 3 it felt like the weight was increasing by 20 lbs. The workout was absolutely relentless and I couldn’t be happier that it is over!
I was able to complete 16.5 in 18 minutes and 17 seconds and I am quite proud of that. I beat my goal of 20 minutes and during the workout all I cared about was finishing so I could be done with this monster.
With the completion of 16.5 my first CrossFit Open is complete. I had an absolute blast and am so glad that my brother convinced me last minute to sign up. I pushed myself harder than I ever have in a CrossFit workout and broke into some uncharted territory with the completion of my 1st Toes 2 Bar, 1st Bar Muscle Up, and 1st Handstand Push Up. Therefore I have nothing but praise towards the Open. I pushed myself to new levels and I know I have excelled as an athlete over the last 5 weeks thanks to the Open. I most definitely will be doing the CrossFit Open in 2017 and will try to convince everyone else to do it as well. It’s simply a blast!
At the time of posting this I finished in 946th place in Western Canada, and 46,779 in the World. Not too shabby for a first timer, if I do say so myself.
Posted this on Wednesday night and scores have to be submitted by Monday evening, so I assume these are the final results, but they could change.