Me against the world: Competing in the CrossFit Open

  • By Bruce Overstreet
  • Thursday, March 6, 2014 10:40am
  • Life

I don’t know which emotion is most predominant for me following the conclusion of Week #1 in the worldwide CrossFit Open. On one hand, I am absolutely stoked that I figured out how to do a “double-under” with a jump rope — the move many young girls mastered at recess way back when they were in elementary school where the jump rope passes under the feet twice every time you jump.

When I walked into the CrossFit Marysville gym this past Saturday for the workout that over 200,000 people did around the world the past four days, I had never been able to do one double-under. Now I was expected to do as many of these double-unders as possible in 10 minutes, along with as many power snatches with 75 pounds.

It was then that I realized there would be no modification of this workout. It was then that I knew my attempt at finding just how well I measured up to every other guy over the age of 50 who was doing the CrossFit Open was in jeopardy.

No double-unders meant no score. It was the first task in the workout. I had no choice but to force myself to at least be able to do one.

So, that’s what I started working on. Around and around I practiced spinning the jump rope in a quick cram session. And every time I extended beyond a single-under (I guess that’s what they’re called), the rope met the irresistible force of my lead feet.

Of course, this is where the stubborn side of me kicks in. It’s the side of me that my wife sees all the time. It’s the side of me that she really doesn’t like; but it’s also the side of me that gets me, a very average athlete, to be able to hold my own against superior talent.

And so I kept practicing.

Sure, I got frustrated as it got closer to the beginning of the mass start for the first competition workout of this annual event.

And then it happened.

Like the clouds separating for that glorious sliver of a sunbeam, I got one double-under. And from the far end of the gym, I heard a little cheer from a group who acknowledged that I had done the seemingly impossible. They had been watching my pathetic repeated, failed attempts. And they were both amused by my lack of coordination and impressed with my persistence to get the jump rope under my feet twice before my feet gave way to the unforgiving force of gravity.

I could do one. One at a time is better than a zero.

Then it was time to start.

Ten minutes later, I had totaled 65 double-unders and 30 power snatches. That combined total of 95 placed me solidly in 1898th place out of 2,323 competitors in the 50-54 age category from around the world after the first of five competitions.

1,898th is much better than my original goal of simply beating five guys from somewhere in the world.

But, here is where the other powerful emotion kicks in. I’m a competitor. And once I do a competition, I start thinking about the “what ifs.” What if I had really mastered the double-under before my less-than-stellar success Saturday morning? What if I had done CrossFit for more than two months prior to the Open? Where would I be on the list of guys in my age category then?

And this is where I segue into a quick look at one of the real success story at CFM after the first round of this year’s CrossFit Open. Litsa Olsson, 52, is currently in 9th place out of 1,573 females in the 50-54 age category. And no one deserves to be in the Top Ten more than Litsa. Every time one walks into CFM and Litsa is there, it’s as if one is greeted by a shock wave of energy. Litsa generates enthusiasm. Litsa jump-starts the entire gym. Where Litsa is, you know people are feeling good about themselves.

But, make no mistake, her big beautiful smile belies her competitive streak.

A year ago, Litsa finished 15th in the CrossFit Open against the best in the world in her age category. Sure, she may be a year older, but she is also a year stronger. One need look no further than the fact that Litsa recorded a combined score of 309 for the double-unders and power snatches in ten minutes, which, by the way, is nearly three times more than my score.

While I will continue to report on my anemic efforts to “compete” against the best in the 50-54 age group of CrossFit over the next four weeks, perhaps we should also keep tabs on people like Litsa.

Three hundred and nine double-unders and power snatches in 10 minutes. That’s better than one every two seconds. I get fatigued just writing about it.

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