Caveat: this is not intended to be a personal blog, but I figured a meet report would be of some value to those of you who would like to eventually compete in a powerlifting-style meet. I say powerlifting-style since this was not a true meet. This gets pretty personal, so no judgement, ok?
Some of you know that I flew to Chicago Friday night after Powerlifting class to compete in the first CrossFit Football competition. But our story starts a few weeks before then. Luke, the trainer who taught me Fundamentals, now works for CrossFit Balboa and told my home box that CF Football would be in town hosting its first ever competition. Mardi Gras or really testing what I've been (haphazardly and irregularly) training for? I signed up a few weeks later and stole my mom's airline miles to get a free ticket home.
Now things get personal. Weight classes for women were set at 154 or less for lightweight, and 154+ for heavyweight. I figured my chances would be best if I dropped into lightweight, so I got advice on how to cut a few days before. The three weeks leading up to this, I was in absolute denial and ate whatever carbs I could justify with a stressful job. I ended up eating only plain broccoli and chicken the Thursday night through Friday, stopping water at 6:30pm Friday. Things got real when I awkwardly asked the United counter rep if I could weigh myself on the baggage scale. Apparently still 6 pounds away the night before. WTF? Jake, the head of RAW 504, told me the scale must be off and if I had to, to go to Walmart and stand on all the scales for a rough approximation. The flight to ORD was empty, no surprises there, and I tried to sleep my way through dehydration and lack of energy (seriously, if you're tired, eat some fat). I got into Chicago around midnight, and weighed myself in the fitness center of the hotel. Nope, still about 4 pounds away, I ran some sprints on the treadmill then took a hot shower to try to jerry rig a sauna.
Going to bed around 1, I woke up at 6:30am to re-weigh in (2 freaking pounds away, really?! What if I dont make it? I'd be letting Jake down and failing before I even started). I put my pink Dr. Seuss children's size Chucks on and ran sprints on the treadmill, then re-weighed myself, muttering all the time about being 2 pounds away. All the type A exercisers must have thought I had some sort of disorder. I packed a breakfast for myself in the lobby, calling Liz and loudly proclaiming "I'm 2 beeping pounds away, what the beep am I going to do, starving myself and being weak would all be for nothing, aaahhhghgh" and generally holding up the coffee and toaster lines.
Arriving a little late at Atlas CrossFit around 8:20am, I met up with some people from my old box, CrossFit of Naperville (CFNA) and proceeded to weigh in. After peeing and praying, I got in line. I warned the girl in charge that I'd be close, and we basically came to the understanding that if things were really bad, I'd be stripping down to make weight. Once I stood on the scale, she said "Oh, you'll make it. Where do you need to be?" "Under 154" "Ok, here you go. 153.8" OHHHH YEAAAHHHH BEEPS WHAT UP.
After that, things were groovy and I chugged Gatorade and ate a bagel with peanut butter. No, not paleo, yes rehydration and quick fuel for the first event starting in an hour. I sized up the competitors and rolled out, waiting to warm up the power clean.
CF Football Total
Power Clean 1 Rep
Squat 1 Rep
Bench 1 Rep
Deadlift 1 Rep
*Perform a singal maximal effort for the lifts listed above.
*After warm-ups, 3 attempts are allowed.
*Total must be done in the specified order.
*Combine all 4 lifts to create CF Football Total
I warmed up easily to 135 in practice, decided to open at 145lbs. In training at CF NOLA I can clean 135 cold so I felt confident about 145 but was really nervous and stiff on the actual lift. Caught it super high, and cleaned 155 next. Decided to go for a PR of 160.6 (hola 73 kilos) and Neil, owner of CFNA, told me just to shoot my elbows through. Luke reminded me that the pull would feel slow, but to still hit the benchmarks (i.e. hit your power position still and not pull early). The adrenaline rush from going in the first heat in front of a crowd and lifting w/coffee in the system (for the first time, don't do that) made me jittery, but I got it. I mentally wasn't prepared to go for 165 (up to now, my max squat clean, so thus the 5lb jump). Felt great about it until I learned the lightest girl (109lbs) cleaned 76 kilos to my 73. That's 167.5 lbs at a bodyweight of 109. REALLY? Lightweight was the WRONG division, and my life is a lie.
We had about an hour of rest until the squats (there were about 5 heats of 3 platforms each, and on each platform there were 4-5 lifters). Total of about 58 people there total, by the way. Since I went in the first heat, I had until all the other heats finished cleaning before I squatted.
Warmed up to a single of 235 in practice for squats, felt fast, so I decided to stay with my planned opener of 245. I hit this in practice pretty much weekly, so I felt confident at this weight. It went well, and I stuck with my choice of 265 for my second attempt. Generally you want to hit an opener of about 7% under your max, and then hit your max on attempt 2 if things go well. 265 is my max, I've hit it about 3 times in practice. Got it, had a bit of a forward lean so really had to fight for it. Once I grind it out and know I'm safe, I triumphantly yell and the crowd responds. It's a different atmosphere, lifting at a competition and the caffeine + nerves make it difficult for me to focus. 2 of my old teammates from the Northwestern Equestrian Team have driven down from Wisconsin to support me, and I don't want to let them down either. I've failed at 275 in training and hit a high 270 the week before (I thought I was deep enough but apparently my self-preservation took over) so I didn't have confidence that I would be able to hit 270 or 275 after the 265 struggle. I called it, and only took 2 attempts. I thought I'd have more room on the squat, but one of the other girls in my group hit 250 so I knew competition was still tough. Ended up with the highest female squat though.
Benching I've fallen behind in since the early fall, when I hit 135 in practice. I've only recently been able to bench 125, getting stapled at 130 and 135, depending on the day I took the attempt and what size jump I made. I warmed up to 105 in practice, and it felt fast. I knew going in that there were going to be girls benching 140, 150, and 160 so I'd have to make up the difference on my deadlift. I opened at 115, and it was fine, 125 went well. The question was whether to make a jump to 135 or only to 130. I decided to be conservative based on my recent training maxes so I went to 130. Ground it out, Luke said I would have maybe made 131 or 132, but not 135, so that was a good call. More tricep work needed.
Finally, the deadlift. I knew I had to hit some good lifts because 250 squat girl benched 150 and I didn't know her clean but it would be close. Warmed up a little too early, to 275 in practice. Was debating whether to open with 295 or 290, Jake originally told me to be conservative after all the other lifts, but my strength mentor Ben from CFNA (first guy I ever met to CrossFit Total over 1000) wanted me to open big with 300. I went with 295, which I hit during practice confidently. It went up a little slower than I would have liked, but I was on track to get 315, which is my PR but I've pulled it 3 times on separate occasions. Each time 315 has been easier than before.
I set up for 315, but my glasses slipped slightly and I pushed them up with my left hand. I reset my grip, but didn't reset my postion, so I wasn't using the bar to rock back like normal. The bar was too forward during my drive and I couldn't get it past 6 inches off the ground. (As a side note, I was the only non-white competitor and only competitor with glasses haha). Scared. Really, really scared. Especially when 250 squat/150 bench girl pulled 325 easily. What happened? I have this lift. I OWN 315. I've done it in January and a week ago. What should I do? If I do 315 again, she might win b/c we're close and I don't know what she cleaned. If I attempt 315 again AND FAIL, she will win. I set up at 320, a lifetime PR after a confidence-shaking fail at 315. I can't help but replay a failed lift even though I try to stay positive. Outwardly I take my time, I set up like I have a million times before, I preload my bar and rock under. It is in slow motion in my mind and probably in real life. Where's the sticking point? Am I past it yet? Oh dear god, once I'm past my knees what if I hitch? I get it and it is smooth. I wait for the down command and the crowd cheers. I nearly burst into tears because of a jumble of: I'm pretty sure I've won/the overwhelming relief that 315 was not a strength failure/I just PRd my deadlift. I'm 6 lbs away from the top clean, have a +15 on the squat, am missing up to 30lbs in the bench, but only -5 off the top deadlift.
Results aren't announced until the end of the day, so I don't want to jinx it. Metcon isn't announced until right before the "lunch" break at 3pm. Every 30 seconds...
1 power clean @ 70% of 1RM from CFFB Total (rounded up to the next 5, so it puts me at 115lbs)
Death by ball slam*
*Do 1 power clean every 30 seconds, followed by ball slams
*Death by ball slam is 1 ball slam on the 1st interval, 2 ball slam on the 2nd interval, 3 ball slam on the 3rd interval, etc.The slam ball is 35lbs for men and women (there's no scaling in CF Football). I call Jeff and ask for some advice and "fatherly love" (I was on some weird adrenaline crack, sorry Jeff) and he reassures me that I'll be fine.
We don't have slamballs at CF NOLA and I have crap coordination. You have to catch on the bounce for the rep to count. It only bounces like 2 cm off the ground, so you really have to squat down and scoop, keeping a big shrug like a medball clean to get it back overhead. At first try I can only get like 2 in practice. I also drop it on my head. I do a few reps until I can get about 6 in a row, and I'm already breathing hard. Oof.
We are put into random groups, I end up going in a later heat and getting 7 rounds + 7 reps (last rep to finish 8 total rounds came 2 seconds too late). My cardio ended first, and my technique got sloppy (my forearms are still a little sore from squeezing the ball and trying to muscle it up instead of cleaning it). I was relieved it was over and my score puts me in the middle of the pack for the metcon.
Results were announced afterwards, and I made the podium for first place women's lightweight total and overall women's total (grand prize). The best part was having Luke announce the results and having Neil hand me the prizes, both were my first ever CF trainers. Final CF Football total: 875.6. Closest was 863.6 for 2nd in lightweight and 863 for first in heavyweight. The irony of making weight, the lightweight division was more competitive. Full results here (pdf). Also, as a side note, if this had been Wilks scored (normalizes lifts across different divisions so you can compare a 140lb lifter to a 240lb lifter), I would have lost since 2nd place had lower bodyweight.
I'm sure there's a lot I'm forgetting, but I will probably make a ninja update or you can ask questions in the comment section and I'll answer them. Oh, that night when I finally got home, I came down with a cold. All the cutting, flight/cold air, and energy expenditure put me over the edge. Worth it I guess, too bad the Open starts this week (sign up!).
Next powerlifting class at 5:30pm Friday. I teach Oly lifting Wed at 7 or 7:30 (Jeff might switch the time), and Thursday normal classes at 6:30 and 7:30pm if you'd like to talk in person. Thanks for reading and for all your support along the way. Special shout outs to Elana and Mark for checking in during the day. Thanks to CF Football for putting on a great event and thanks to all of the incredibly strong competitors for building a culture of support.