Best of 13.1


Jessica getting 75#

The first week of the CrossFit Open is in the books. About 130,000 individuals signed up for the CrossFit Open. As I browse the leaderboard there are a lot of individuals who didn’t enter a score or, as best as I can tell watching a few videos, seriously underscored themselves. In any case, there were 100,000 people or so (or more) who had their fill of burpees and snatches this past week.

Many individuals, myself included, did it twice. I did it for the first time on Friday night and then did it again on Sunday afternoon. I improved my score by 13 reps and as best I can figure I jumped about 500 people in my division in the Southwest Region and about 8,000 people in my division worldwide. I am currently in 1,356th place out of about 73,000 men. That puts me in the top 2% of competitors. And I will surely take that.

All around the world at affiliates, garages, backyards, inside homes and at globo gyms people performed 13.1 and in many cases had a small audience rooting them on. The energy at my affiliate on Friday night was electric. The people were awesome, the positivity was amazing and the way athletes impressed themselves by besting their goals was simply motivating.

The best of 13.1 can be said to be Neal Maddox on the men’s side with 199 reps or Kristan Clever sneaking in on the final day with a score of 211 to edge out Annie Thorrisdottir on the woman’s side. Watching videos of the best of the best like Scott Panchik and Dan Bailey performing live after the WOD was announced on Wednesday night or Annie’s performance via video from half of a world away might be the best part of 13.1 for many. Not for me. Here is what made 13.1 amazing for me and this is my “Best Of” from 13.1.

The first three moments from 13.1 for me come from members at CrossFit Crush, where I currently train and coach. Crush is a new box and is coming up on its one year anniversary. It has a few CrossFit veterans who have been through the Open before and a host of individuals who are new to the experience. There were three newcomers I loved watching kill it this weekend: Jessica, Ron and Antonia.

Watching the sheer determination to succeed was inspiring. Jessica (pictured above) was red in the face as she heaved 75# over her head – a new personal best 11 times. There were reps that weren’t the prettiest, reps that surely wouldn’t make a Mike Burgener instructional video, but these reps had the words “I CAN DO IT” seared into them. One after the other, struggle, determination and will power kept netting additional reps. CrossFitters know that sometimes form needs to be thrown to the side just so we can get results. During last year’s clean ladder Thorrisdottir surely didn’t have the best form, but she kept pushing on. This weekend at Crush Jessica didn’t have the best form but she kept pushing on and it was wonderful.

Antonia is also participating in her first Open and she did the WOD twice. The first time she wasn’t happy with the results and she couldn’t sleep and was constantly thinking about how she could perform better in 13.1. Enter Sunday afternoon and even though she kept shaking her head “no” she kept pushing. She failed a few times at 75# but didn’t give up. She continued to take cues from myself and other coaches on how to get 75# over her head. She knew she could do it, she did it last week when our box just so happened to have Isabelle programmed for a daily WOD, but after 70 burpees and 30 snatches things get more difficult. She knew she could beat her score of 111 from Friday night and with less than 30 seconds to go she nailed two more reps for a score of 113. Even though, at that very moment, she wasn’t smiling you could still feel the pride and her sense of accomplishment. She would be smiling a bit later after she caught her breath and could stand!

Ron trying 135

Ron trying 135

Finally we come to Ron. Ron has been CrossFitting for about six weeks or so, maybe seven. I believe he has been doing some form of CrossFit in the military but without any sort of weight – all body weight movements. The snatch is something he has been doing for, at best, seven weeks. And realistically we probably have had the snatch programmed twice, maybe three times, since Ron joined Crush. We had to talk Ron into signing up for the Open. If anything it can serve as a benchmark for future performance and increased fitness. Ron was damn certain he couldn’t snatch 135#. He had trouble snatching 95# during Isabelle last week. It wasn’t going to stop him. He was going to get through the burpees and snatches at 75# as fast as possible for tiebreaker purposes then pace the next 30 burpees and give every single ounce to get 135 over his head at least once. Sometimes we don’t succeed but it doesn’t make it any less impressive to watch or be a part of. Ron was not successful at getting a rep at 135# but he tried, tried some more and tried again. He got really close in his final attempt and watching someone NOT GIVE UP like that is just as satisfying as a coach as watching someone succeed.

There were also a few stories from Facebook.

Heather is a former co-worker with my wife. While we haven’t ever met in person (we need to!) we have become good friends on Facebook. She lives the CrossFit lifestyle and thanks to her my wife and I found It Starts with Food and we are healthier today because of it. Her one rep max is 75#. The thought of doing multiple at that weight had her send me this message on Saturday morning before she did 13.1:

Crap looked at my max weights.. 75 is my 1 rep max!!

But later on that morning I got this message:

I was jumping around excited!! I failed a zillion times then got one, failed more then got 2 and so on & so on & so on. Gave it everything I had so I’m pleased.

We all saw this same event this past weekend and that doesn’t make this any less impressive. Just reading it you can imagine the sense of joy she had as she kept nailing another rep, and then another and just reading it makes me smile. The joy that the Open can bring to anyone and everyone is something worth smiling for.

Finally, on a personal note, I have my cousin Dane. Dane lives in Iowa and was raised on a farm, a farmer’s boy and, like all my cousins, strong. Growing up on a farm will make you strong whether you like it or not. And not just strong in the physical sense, but strong mentally, too. So when I got this note from him on Facebook in response to my post about getting 125 reps in 13.1 on my first go around I wasn’t surprised. Even though I didn’t even know he did CrossFit.

I whooped you Trav!!! I got 126 haha

I didn’t think twice that he beat me. I believed it even though I didn’t even know he did CrossFit. Like I said, I know he is strong both mentally and physically and he has like 10 years on me!! But he eventually came clean and said he was doing a modified 13.1 because he just stated doing CrossFit in January. He was doing clean and jerks instead of snatching. What makes this so great? For me? Twofold: 1. he said he started doing CrossFit because of my posts on Facebook and I love hearing that I inspire anyone to do anything and 2. it brought me and my cousin a bit closer. When you have a family of about 50 of cousins and I have lived in Colorado nearly his entire life and he is 10 years younger than I, we don’t know each other that well. I plan on going to Iowa this summer and look forward to checking out the box he has joined.

It isn’t just personal stories that make my list of the “Best of 13.1”, either.

Matt Hathcock is a good pick to advance out of the Southwest region in 2013. In 2012 he was edged off the podium after Chris Spealler’s amazing final WOD during regionals. Hathcock sports a 2:01 Fran, 1:14 Grace and 505# deadlift. He is a beast. He originally posted a score of 173 for 13.1 and at the time it beat Tommy Hackenbruck for the top spot in the Southwest region. I tend to scoreboard watch and noticed later that Hathcock’s score of 173 was no longer there. I turned to Twitter and found this tweet:


After watching the video I noticed I was allowed to go back to burpees after only 29 reps at 75#. I will be redoing 13.1 for a legit score.

Honesty like this at any level in any sport is always awesome.

What’s worse than doing burpees and snatches? Doing burpees and snatches on one leg. Jenny LaBaw did just that for 13.1. LaBaw won her region in 2012 and placed 37th at the CrossFit Games. She has the Games on her goal sheet for 2013, too. The Open should be just about getting to regionals so she can prove her worth and get to the games, again. But then she broke her foot in a bicycling accident. Enter this video:

Anything more motivating than that?! I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t take on 13.1 just a few days after breaking my foot.

The CrossFit Open is so much more than watching in awe of the top athletes in the world, it is about the accomplishments we can make as humans. It is about watching people do things they previously didn’t think was possible and enjoying the pride and joy they have when they surprise even themselves.

That is my best of 13.1.


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