CrossFit is hard
In the CrossFit game of musical chairs, Denny found himself as the last man with a seat of our 30 plus CrossFit Oakdale Games aspirants four months ago. Through 3 Open workouts and 6 quarterfinals tests, Denny earned the opportunity to be a world semi-finalist in his age category. Like the semi-finals many of you are watching, Denny had to complete 6 burly tests over the course of one weekend. To complicate matters slightly, and to make a fair playing field, the workouts had to be completed in a 24 hour window, and verified with video and a password to ensure you didn’t cheat, and do the workout a week ago.
Denny effectively started CrossFit at 40 years and was a fit, but he will admit – a fairly weak, athlete. He had a great engine and attitude, but strength was not a part of his game. Denny had strong legs, but couldn’t pull big weight and pressing was even tougher. So, over the last decade, Denny has worked systematically to address this weakness. Ask Denny about the first time he cleaned 165 (he cried), got his first ring muscle up in 12.4 (we all cried) or a myriad of other small to large steps on his fitness journey. The amount of discipline that Denny has put into getting stronger and fitter over the last 10 years is mind boggling to the average person. We all understand the time needed to take a 275 pound back squat and turn it into a 300 pound back squat. Or take a 4 minute Fran and turn it to a 3 minute Fran. And taking a 3 minute Fran, and making it a 2:50 Fran, well that takes another level.
All, that to say, Denny has done this brick by brick over the years. At 4:30 in the morning. One thing that I am so proud of at CrossFit Oakdale, is we live this shit. It is a lifestyle for us, and we live it by example. We do the workouts, we do them together, we look to move better, prepare better, day in, day out, year in, year out, now decade in and decade out.
And, we are nerds for this stuff. Denny and I share workout ideas, programming, watch up and coming athletes, nerd out over old Glassman videos or workouts. We love it all.
But it ain’t easy. CrossFit is fair. And with Denny’s best chance at the CrossFit Games, the workouts for the semi-final were, to put it lightly, were going to be a battle. You spend all this time preparing for a test that can be literally, anything and everything. You tell yourself the workouts don’t matter, but when the workouts actually get announced, when it matters, well, it matters. So, when the workouts were announced, I can imagine what Denny was thinking. I’ve been in a similar spot. In 2012, I was the fittest I’ve ever been, and was coming off a 10th place finish in the previous years Regional. But in 2012, CrossFit decided that we needed to be obnoxiously strong. I spent the next month basically freaking out if I could actually even do the test that I had expected to crush. The workouts I got were things that had never been seen before – 30 cleans at 225, 100 pound dumbbell snatches, 345 pound deadlifts. Just really heavy stuff that you couldn’t fake. I feel like Denny got a similar menu – The first workout was clearly going to be the toughest for him – 60 bench presses at 185.
Denny had 2 weeks to prepare for the semifinals, and 185 was essentially his 1 rep max bench press. Here he was, knowing that his best shot was coming and he was likely going to eat a last place. Instead of saying, screw it, I’ll take last, he did what we do. He spent the next two weeks benching nearly every day that he could. Breaking down the movement, trying to find little nuances and the best way to squeeze out the reps. We knew this was going to be a lot to overcome, and the last workout, a max effort clean and jerk, would also be a tough score. So Denny went out and won the world in the GHD/HS walk/BMU and 7th in the wall ball workout.
But for me, the true battle was the 19 reps Denny squeezed out on the bench. Each rep was a fight, but we do the fight. Even after getting stuck, Denny got his last reps, and beat 5 guys in the workout, taking 25th.
So, Denny didn’t make the Games. But because we are the way we are, we will keep adding bricks. And that best chance will just be the most recent best chance. There will be more, because we keep fighting, keep working. It’s never the end…