The Open – 1.0

By Chip Hankinson

There was nothing gentle about my first time – it hurt; it broke me. My lungs burned and my legs ached, my chest was bruised and my hands were shredded. I tried to sign my name to the scorecard after 19.5 and couldn’t hold the pen, let alone make something resembling a signature. It was humbling and humiliating, but it was elation and inspiring at the same time.

I had been Crossfitting for about 6 months and had some idea what I was getting in to. I felt fairly proficient at the movements. Even knowing I am not a powerhouse beast and would give up a lot on the heavier workouts, I had a good sense that my cardio and gymnastic work would be able to pull me through some of the WODs with a somewhat respectable performance. I didn’t really have an idea of a goal going in to it, but I knew I wanted to compete.

What it turned out to be was a competition against myself, and that was something I never anticipated. The first two workouts contained 3 of my least favorite and / or weakest movements – wall balls, double unders, and cleans. The weirdest part, however, was that I did as well as I thought I would in them, or maybe even a little better. The WODs containing stuff I don’t do well were easier to mentally prepare for; no pressure, no expectations, no worries. Having no expectations for 19.3 was a tremendous help – I even got my first ever strict hand stand pushup.

I think what defined this Open experience was 19.4, though. I watched a friend crush it. And I was in the next heat, and I couldn’t get my head out of the way. Literally. I smacked my nose on the way down from the fourth thruster; DNF. I went in the next heat, and flaked out after miscounting my burpees, another glaring and embarrassing DNF. So, I came back two days later, with less than 2 hours before I had to log a result, now sitting at 22 reps… and went at it. And I DID it. I got my first WOD muscle up! (Actually got my first 8 WOD MUs – double the total amount I had ever done previously!) It was elation and I know I had to have a smile from ear to ear.

But maybe the best part of it was that the coaches and spectators were as happy about it as I was. They saw my struggle and my mental pain going in. And that is what I love about CrossFit in general, the comradery, but especially about The Open. Since everyone is doing the same workout, we all know the struggle. And they all know to celebrate your victory, because it is just as likely that they are fighting through their own mental battle… or overcoming and celebrating their own success.