More than anything, what I remember from last year was the lack of sleep. When I don’t get sleep, I get cranky (as my teammates surely remember). This year was no different.
So Mike and I were working the Games this year. Definitely a very different experience from competing; to get a sense of the logistics of running an event. To be fair, between something or other causing my side to hurt and the incredible soreness that apparently results from four workouts in 24 hours after 10 days of rest, I was happy not to be competing. I still sure as heck got my exercise; though!
Thursday after training (and eating!) we checked in, got our uniforms, and then within seconds Mike had jumped in and started helping out so I, of course, followed suit (our assigned shifts didn’t start until the next day). This kept us busy for a few hours until lunch, exploring the vendor tents, and socialising with old friends. I restrained myself from buying another pair of Inov8s even though they were really pretty … our volunteer appreciation dinner was graced by Coach Glassman, who appeared to be sober. But really, the staff side of the CrossFit Games is really all about hanging with friends. Well, that and the free VitaCoco, and free food (seriously they were charging $20 for paleo meals at the food trucks … insanity!).
Mike was on the Masters Committee (he was judging on Friday and managing on Saturday), and I was on the Track & Field Committee. We were responsible for equipment setup and reset between heats for all of the track & field events. I was put in charge of putting out any fires that came up; i.e. responding to unexpected situations that occurred. For the most part, this consisted of ordering other people around.
Our crew was run by three guys out of TJ’s Gym in Northern California. They had run the NorCal Regionals and seemed pretty on top of things. On Saturday we had some ‘help’ from some of the HQ higher-levels, which was always amusing. The final track event was Saturday early afternoon, so after that we were officially off, although I got sucked into a few other things, as happens. Saturday afternoon I was on signage for the stadium, and Sunday I was in the wrong place at the wrong time so I wound up helping with stadium equipment setup.
This actually led to one of the most amusing parts of the weekend for me. I was racing onto the stadium floor and four of us got directed to move these bright green concrete blocks out onto the field. So I went and picked one up … not really thinking too much about it until I realised the thing was HEAVY. It was only 115 pounds but it was very awkward. One of the other girls on the volunteer crew was telling me later that she knew that thing must have been heavy because she’d seen me running around all weekend lifting heavy stuff with no problem … until that. Gee, I’m human after all.
Aside from that, I would say the hardest part wasn’t the equipment setup, it was resetting the equipment between heats, especially when unexpected things happened that we hadn’t rehearsed, or when HQ changed the lane assignments without telling us. The most stressful thing I had to do the entire weekend was reset the GHD machines to each individual athlete’s foot setting and distance between GHD and medicine ball chute (they were doing a medball toss for distance … right before doing a running, split snatch, and bar muscle up workout). I was doing this with one other person and we had about 10 minutes or less to adjust 12 lanes. After the first heat we got a system down and were even able to pause momentarily to check out the guys doing bar muscle ups 10 feet away from us. Super cool.
Unfortunately I managed to sunburn my lips because I hadn’t put sunscreen on them. By the next day they had swollen up so I looked like I had botox. Good heavens; this was unfortunate. I like my lips the way they normally are, and not all hyper-sensitive. The rest of me survived pretty intact although I do have some strange tan lines now.
The logistics of setup were actually usually not as complicated as you might think. The pageantry involved in making sure everything got reset as quickly and prettily as possible was of somewhat epic proportions however.
What was also of epic proportion was the amount of name-dropping that was going on, both at the Games and at the after party. Seriously … honestly, athletes are cool and all. I don’t really know any of them other than as acquaintances. Who I really find interesting are the coaches and staff, many of whom are Level 2 trainers. Athletes get most of the glory, but I’ve always liked Bill Belichick more than Tom Brady. So I was most happy to re-connect with some of those folks than to hobnob with the elite athletes.
How did the South Africans do? Well, Rika and David Levey both performed relatively well on the triathalon. Rika had hurt her knee but I did see her do a couple of bar muscle ups, but was unable to kick into a headstand to attempt any of the deficit handstand pushups (if I didn’t realise before now the importance of mastering the kipping handstand pushup, I now do – this was an Achilles heel for Julie Foucher), or any rope climbs the next day, and then she withdrew from the competition. I was disappointed, because I wanted to see how she would have finished. But, hey you can’t control when injuries happen.
David finished I think 34th overall or so. I thought he did quite well, but I was missing most of his heats. I missed a lot actually because I was working, but so it goes. I think after a while watching 6 or 8 heats of the same thing over and over does get a bit boring, so it was nice to mix it up, hang out in the cool under the stadium, and observe how the athletes prepped. Gotta love that game face.
The CrossFit Platinum team finished second last. They beat the team from Asia (last year Asia did not send a team because they could not afford to travel so far). So, essentially the same performance as our team although the Platinum team was a lot stronger than our team of last year. So, of course, was the rest of the field. They did really well on the events that involved raw strength (like the massive team sled push, yoke carry, and front squat), because they have some very strong athletes, not least Andre de Bonis. I was psyched to see them do so well on the sprint relay (their women more so than their men).
They unfortunately made a critical strategic error on the team triplet, and sent the first team of Paul and Beatrix out there leaving the second team of Julian and Cindy with no one who could reliably clean the barbell in order to hold it in the front rack while the other team member was on the rower. But, that’s a depth issue. Similar issue on the rope climbs: the girls did the same thing I did last year and climbed too much with the arms in the first ascents and then got stuck unable to finish the 20 team rope climbs.
Overall, good fun. Not enough sleep as we would leave every day around 8pm, and had to report back to work at 6:45/7am. I guess it was 7 or 7.5 hours sleep but that isn’t enough when you’re in the sun all day and working hard. OK, it’s not enough sleep for me full stop.
Speaking of not enough sleep … the after party. That was kind of epic, mainly because everyone was there. Well, almost everyone… from athletes to coaches to judges to HQ personnel. I did my best to avoid the dance floor where it was noisy and you couldn’t much talk, but mostly hung around either the indoor bar area or the outdoor courtyard. Courtyard was nicer but most of the people I knew were inside. I think the shot of tequila at last call with a bunch of fun folks from all over the world was great, as was the chance to catch up with a lot of people. Strangely enough I’d met many of them in Cape Town so it was a bit strange or even surreal to be meeting up again almost halfway around the world.
Random notes/thoughts on the competition itself and the spectacle surrounding it:
- There is definitely a strength and gymnastics focus (err, that’s CrossFit I guess!). Kipping ring dips, two flavours of muscle up, handstand pushups … you name it, you better be good at it.
- Thick grip bars made their appearance this year too; Neil Scholtz called that one a few months back.
- The teams really are won and lost by the women.
- The athletes who managed to make a habit of watching heats prior to theirs did well. Annie Thorisdottir, Kyle Kasperbaum, Lucas Parker. Sure that would have been the case anyway, but … makes sense.
- Reebok …. Well, they have definitely increased their line of CrossFit clothes. There is also an obnoxious neon trend in America at the moment. Oh my word. Call me old fashioned but I preferred last year’s uniforms.
- Dave Castro cut his hair for the cameras. And he winked at me after I caught him giving his All Access pass to someone’s kid. Cute. 😉
- A lot of people were wearing weight belts. Like … a lot of people. I’ve not used one myself, ever, but I started asking around. There seem to be two schools of thought: one is that you should go all natural, the other is that you should use a weight belt for support near your max weights, to help you lift heavier than you otherwise could (and then it will translate to lifting without the belt as well).
So … onto next competition season. I feel pretty good about my plans for the next year, and it’s great to go through whole swathes of the day forgetting that I am recovering from a major injury. That means … it’s getting better, so long as I keep not being stupid about it.
So, same issue with not getting enough sleep. No body dysmorphia this year, though. I’m in way better shape.
- “Not one of them has an ounce of fat on his body. … and not one of them is wearing a shirt.” – Jason
- “You don’t change shoes for the lion attack.” – Laa-Laa
- “We’re in Compton?” – Ellie
- “Do all your stories involve a bottle of wine, Ellie?” – Rob
- “She can hold her own.” – Laa-Laa