OC Throwdown: Ryan's Experience

Thursday January 19, 2012

A. Muscle Up Intro

B. 20 Minute AMRAP:

15 Wall Balls (20/14)

12 OH Walking Lunge (45/25)

9 Box Jumps (24"/20")

6 Ring Dips

OC  Throwdown

By: Ryan Doyle

I learned some valuable lessons from competing in this year’s OC Throwdown. Here are a few them:

From mid October to early January I trained my weaknesses, I trained what I thought could be featured movements at the event and I trained heavy. In retrospect, I would not have done anything differently. I felt prepared for the movements in the events I participated in. Granted, there were men there that had to do ring handstand pushups and handstand walks, two movements I cannot do fluidly. Add those to the goal sheet! What I took away from the 2.5-month training experience was that you can only do so much in a given day. But, each day adds up to something bigger at the end. For example, I worked muscle ups and handstand pushups on plates A LOT prior to the OCT. While training, I had no idea if I had really gotten better at them, but after the OCT, I realized those cold nights trying to string together muscle ups paid off. A year ago, I could barely do a handstand pushup and considered it a major weakness of mine. At the OCT it saved me tons of time being proficient at the kip and staying on the wall. A glaring weakness had become a strength.

LESSON: The parts add up to a whole. Continue working on weaknesses and they will become strengths.

When Event 3 was announced, Rich and I both groaned. A CrossFit Total is exactly what we didn’t want to see. And a max box jump for height?  When was the last time I had done anything like that?

Being behind the scenes and getting to know some of the athletes that weekend made one thing evident: there were some big, strong dudes there. Rich and I are very different athletes, but share the common affection for running, long workouts, and body weight movements. So when we began to warm up for the CrossFit Total both us had sort of “checked out” of the competition. We were frustrated with the programming, dreading lifting heavy with all these strong guys in the competition, and feeling generally defeated. Add to all of this the warm up tent was swarmed with 30 guys vying for 2 squat racks to warm up, we knew we were doomed.

LESSON: Don’t underestimate yourself.

Event 3 was one of my favorites of the competition. The intensity of having a limited amount of time to set up the bar and find a one-rep max was thrilling. The atmosphere was electric and knowing the CrossFit Redondo peeps were close by and cheering added to the moment. In no way shape or form did getting a PR even cross my mind before this event. I was fortunate enough to get 2 of them, both on my deadlift and press.  The box jump was also surprisingly really fun. When the judge asked me if I wanted to start at 42” I didn’t know if that was the standard starting position or impossibly high. I was shocked to be able to jump that high and a little more.

You can strategize, you can speculate and predict, you can talk. There is something about competition that can brings out the best in people. I made the mistake that I preach against constantly at the gym, and that is to never underestimate yourself. I’ve seen countless individuals lift more than they ever imagined, kick up on a wall, jump on a box, and run a certain distance they never thought possible.

I woke up Sunday morning with a stiff, painful shoulder. After reaching in the cupboard for some Maca powder (oh yeah!) I felt a searing pain and doubted I could even compete. I called Rich at 6:30 am to let him know there had been no cuts and we would both be doing a workout at 10:30am. Rich said he had eaten poorly and was not ready to compete and I should go along without him. When I arrived at the Hangar, almost immediately I was informed the workout would be HSPU’s, OH Squats and pullups. Sooo, the shoulder might be a tiny bit involved. I talked to the onsite physical therapist; he worked on the shoulder and left the decision to compete up to me. After warming up each movement I decided to give it a try, knowing pullups would be the trickiest movement to get through. I would’ve been happy with finishing a single round of the 4 required.

Feeling defeated, I decided to go sit with the CrossFit Redondo crew for a few minutes before my heat went on. There, I talked with Rich, who was in jeans and a tee shirt. I could tell he started to get the itch to compete and after some encouragement from the group, he sprinted to his car, grabbed some shorts and went to go warm up for his heat, which started in no less than 15 minutes.  He then went on to do very well in the workout, and he competed as hard as he could.

I was in the next heat, and I was really nervous about not being able to do the movements, leaving me stranded under the lights, in the pit not doing anything.  When the 3-2-1 Go was sounded off, I kicked up into the handstands and rattled off 5, pain free. I thought, “okay I can do those.” Then I grabbed the 95 lb barbell and successfully got 10 straight OH Squats, favoring the right shoulder but no serious pain. As my confidence grew from being able to do the movements, I began to forget anything was hurt. I altered my grip on the pullups and was able to go at a decent pace with manageable pain. When it was all said and done I was 3 reps shy of finishing under the 6-minute cap, good for 24th place in the event.

LESSON: Competing is everything. If you’re in the game, you’ve already won.

Rich could’ve packed it in and had a one-day competition. But he competed, and competed at the highest level he could. I could’ve felt sorry myself, bowed out remaining bitter about the situation. The point is, both of us wanted to compete and wanted to be out there, for ourselves, for the family and friends that came to support us, and for the love of CrossFit. Coming to the gym, doing the workouts, participating, cheering people on, giving it all: that’s what matters most.

Overall, I was proud of Rich. He competed in an event that catered towards the 200+ pound athlete, not the sub 150-pound one. He busted his ass in every workout, despite the weights being high and him being the lightest guy in the whole competition. He supported me, coached me and cheered me on. I can’t thank him enough for that.

I was proud of our community. They woke up early on their Saturday off to watch us do workouts. Hearing them in the crowd, individual voices even put me in a place I can rarely go to on my own. I pushed harder when they screamed and can’t say enough about how much that meant to me.

Lastly, I want to just thank Steph for putting up with late night muscle up sessions, her reassuring words, and her being there to support me at all times. I don’t think there was a more nervous girlfriend in those stands!