Cold War 2: My First Crossfit Competition

Wednesday December 5, 2012

Sorry I haven’t gotten a menu plan together or done much posting lately.  I’ve been preparing for, and then recovering from, my first ever Crossfit competition.

I participated in Cold War 2 —  a competition put on by Crossfit Liberation.   I was on one of three teams from my box.  Our four person team, aka  “Rubicon #2” consisted of:  Lauren, Matt, Jason, and myself.


I’ve attended competitions before. I had a great time cheering on friends. I celebrated their successes and commiserated their shortcomings, but all the while, there was a quiet stirring within me. I loved the environment, but I wanted to be there as the athlete, not the fan.

However, I knew my skills were not as developed as theirs and I wasn’t sure if I truly “had what it takes”.   When I was invited me to join a team, I immediately said “Yes!”.   And then was immediately terrified.   We were enrolled in the “Rx’d” division and I had serious doubts about my abilities and whether I would hold our team back.

To sum up a post that’s about to get really long, here’s the short version of how we/I did.

It was great!  Our goal was to not finish last and we exceeded our expectation!  We were at the bottom of the pack, but for a bunch of first timers, it was a fantastic experience and made me hungry to do it again.  There’s plenty of room to improve, but I loved it!

I especially loved the comraderie and being one of “them”.

So, now, in fuller detail, here’s how the weekend went down.

The competition was structured with a series of “mini-events” and main “WODs”.  In most cases, only some or one of the 4 person team could compete in the mini-events, and involvement in one mini-event might preclude you from a later event.

Some of the WODs were announced two days prior to the event on the competition WODs page, but others remained a mystery.


Mini-Event #1 – Navy Seals

This was a swim event that only one team member could complete.   I had considered doing this, but we let Lauren, our tri-athelete, tackle this one.  She had to:

  • Swim 25 Yards
  • Get out and do: 40 Hand-Release Push Ups
  • Swim 50 Yards
  • Get out and do: 80 Air Squats
  • Swim 100 Yards


It didn’t sound that bad on paper, but like most workouts, was pretty grueling when you got into it.  Lauren did great and finished 28th out of 35 in 7:10.

WOD #1 – The Pentagon

This event involved 3 of the team members, with the option to swap in the 4th member once, if needed.   Matt, Jason and I were up for this one, with Lauren standing by to bail me out if/when I got zonked (one woman had to remain involved the whole time).

There were 5 stations we had to work through, spending 2 minutes on each, trying to accrue as many reps as possible.  The movements were:

  • Chest-to-Bar Pull-ups
  • Weighted Rucksack Box Step-Ups
    24″ box and 45# ruck for guys / 20″ and 35# for gals
  • Kettle Bell Sumo Deadlift High Pulls (90#/70#)
  • Bar Hop Burpees
    Lateral jump over the barbell after each burpee
  • Front Squats (155#/105#)

I knew C2B pull-ups was going to be a problem for me and I figured I’d run out of gas somewhere around the burpees, so we planned to sub Lauren in at that point.   I am pleased to say, I got 9 pull-ups! I was so excited  to get so many when I had never gotten more than one before.

It’s true, the competition environment pumps you up and brings out your best.  The pull-ups were especially challenging because the rig we were using wasn’t bolted to the ground and was swaying like an earthquake (they had folks literally trying to hold it in place while athletes worked).

The rucksack step ups weren’t too bad, slow and steady was the plan.  The SDLHP were horrible.   It’s such an awkward movement and getting it up was a challenge for me.  It fries your arms and I was banging it into my chest every time.

Then it was time for burpees.  I started out strong, but after 10 or so, I began to slow down.  When I ran out of breath I stepped out and Lauren stepped in to finish.  The front squats looked brutal so I was grateful for her help.

This event was a weaker one for us, relative to our competitors.  We finished 32nd, with a total of 254 reps (the top finishing team got 437!).

Mini Event #2 – Abrams Tank

  • Hexbar Deadlift hold for time
    Men: 315# + 45# ruck / Women: 205# + 25# ruck

We didn’t know ahead of time what this would be.  It turned out to be a one person event where you had to see how long you could hold a hexbar (something I had never seen before) from a deadlift.   I opted to do this event, figuring, my max DL was 258, so I should be able to hang in there.

This was challenging, because the grip was fatter than a barbell, and the hex configuration made it less stable.  When I picked up the bar, I must not have had my hands centered, because it immediately tilted forward, which made it even harder to grip.

My initial goal was to not be the first to drop.  When I heard a couple of slams, I knew I wasn’t the worst in my heat, and then focused on outlasting the guy in front of me.  He went down and I continued to hang on, but started to feel my fingers slip and eventually they gave way.

I lasted for 1 min, 15 seconds, and placed 15th overall for the event.   To say I was pleased is an understatement :).

WOD #2 –  Green Beret

This was a full-on team event, with all 4 members working.  We had to:

  • Run 200m outside to a field, then
  • Pickup an Atlas stone, get it on your shoulder and carry it 200m.
    There were 4 stones weights, 145#, 120#, 95#, and 75# and each member had to complete this movement unassisted.  After that,
  • Scale a 6′ wall as a team (assistance allowed, until you crossed over).  Then run 200m, and
  • Complete 20 hammer strikes each, using a 20#/16# sledge hammer.  Then
  • Run 200m back into the field house.

After all of that, we still weren’t done.   As a team, we had to complete:

  • 100 handstand push-ups, then
  • 80 medicine ball cleans, then
  • 10 muscle-ups.

There was a 15 min time cap for this event.

I was really worried about the atlas stones.   Jason carried the heaviest stone, Matt had the 120, I had the 95 and Lauren had the 75.   I had never done atlas stones before (other than a brief unsuccessful try the night before) and I knew I couldn’t receive help, so if I couldn’t get it up and carry it, we were stuck at that point.

It was super heavy but lo and behold, I got it up!  Cheers from friends and instruction from Coach Ben definitely helped.  The back half of the 200m was uphill and I started to struggle.  I really didn’t want to drop it but I gave out and let it go.   It took a couple of tries, but I eventually got it back up and finished the remaining distance.

From there, we got over the wall easily enough and did our hammer strikes.  Then it was on to the dreaded HSPUs.   We knew this would be a challenge for our team, two teammates don’t have them, and the other two (me and Matt) do, but mine aren’t great.   Matt has mobility issues in his shoulder and he kept getting “no repped” for not getting full extension at the top.

It was frustrating because he was our best HSPUer, but his weren’t counting.  I did my best and had to kip them.  I contributed at least 20 or so and was very happy with my performance.   We completed 48 HSPUs before time expired.   We knew this event would be our “goat” and our score reflected that.   We placed 30th for this WOD.

Mini-Event #3 — POW/MIA

For this challenge, the last of day 1, all four team members were involved.   There were two components, and 2 members had to be designated for each portion.  Only one member of each pair could work at at time, and you could trade-off who did what but each pair had to complete:

  • Pull a 415# sled 200m (4 lengths), only one person pulling at a time (unless the power snatches were done).
  • Complete 20 reps of Snatch Punishers at 115#/85#
    These consisted of one power snatch, then overhead squat, then one lunge per leg with bar overhead.

Matt and I shared the sled pulling duties.  I’m sure I’ve never pushed/pull that much weight before, but I got it! It was hard to get moving, but once it got going, it slid okay on the turf.  We traded off each 50m (one length) and I “let” Matt finish for me as I started to peter out on the last 20m.

Jason and Lauren shared the snatch/lunge duty and this proved to be the more difficult portion of the WOD.   I believe all the teams finished the sled pulls before their partners completed the snatches.   Poor Lauren’s quads must have been fried after all of these squats and lunges!

We placed 31st in this event, with a time of 6:41.

The first day of competition was long and grueling.  We were there by 6am and didn’t leave until  6:30pm.  I was BEAT.

Day 2

Day 2 of the competition also happened to be my 39th birthday.   Competing in an event I was not fit enough to participate in a year ago seemed like a great way to celebrate!

WOD #3 – Army Rangers

This event turned out to be a one mile run with a rucksack — men carried 70#, women 45#.  The time stopped when the whole team crossed the line.

This was a great event for me, the weight wasn’t horrible and our team moved along pretty well.  We finished in 11:43, which was 19th place.

Mini-Event #4 – Snake Eater

The last mini event was a combination of double unders and heavy push jerks.   The remaining two team members who had not previously done a mini-event had to do this one.   With a 7 minute time cap, the teams (working one  person at a time) had to complete:

  • 200 double-unders
  • as many push jerks (185#/125#) as possible in the remaining time.

The last two members of our team were Matt and Jason.  This was both good news and bad news.  Good because Matt rocks the double unders and Jason is strong and can handle 185#.  But bad because Jason isn’t so strong on the double-unders and Matt doesn’t have a 185# jerk.

It turned out to be a division of labor between these two.   Each performed admirably, but our team finish was not as strong as those (like Team Krypton) who had two folks who were good at both.   We finished 31st in this event.

WOD #4 – Marine Force Recon

This was the last WOD of the day for most teams (top finishers had one more final event).  In this event, 3 team members performed the following movements with a 12 min time cap:

  • 200m Dumbell Farmers Carry (55#/35#) — carrying two DBs of the proscribed weight, then
  • 30 Man makers (45#/25#) — only one person does this at at time, then..
  • Solve a Word Jumble (!), then,
  • Move 410#s worth of plates 100m x2 — run them down and back and re-stack them in order, then do it again.

I had never done a man maker before.  A good example of the movement is here — however our version added a lunge for each leg while holding the DBs overhead at the end of each rep.   Lauren, Matt & I worked on this WOD.

The answer to the jumble was “RHABDOMYOLYSIS” — I hope they skip this option next year.  Some teams got stuck and it seems like stinky way to go out.   The plate carry turned out to be surprisingly hard — probably due to the fatigue from all the activities before.   We finished in 11:35, which put us in 27th place.

After all of that, we were finally DONE!

My team’s final standing was 31st out 35 teams.

Perhaps not impressive on the grand scale, but we were all thrilled.  None of my team had ever competed in a Crossfit competition before and we all were stretched and pushed and proud of what we could do.   We also got to see what our shortcomings are and I now have renewed focus to tackle them.

Also, as I said at the beginning, it was great to be among the league of competitors.  Although I’m not qualified to carry their jump ropes, it was cool to be in a competition with heavy weight Crossfit stars like Gretchen Kittelberger and Ben Smith.

2012 Cold War 2 - Crossfit Competition.jpg

It was also a lot of fun to hang with my Crossfit homies.  There were long stretches of downtime and it was a fun group to chill with.


Everything about the experience was great and I can’t wait to do it again.

Before I close out this way too long post,  a few thank yous need to be made.   First and foremost to my wonderful hubby who took care of our kids all weekend so I could play.  He not only kept them busy, got them to their events, he even managed to make me a delicious birthday dinner.

Photography credits also need to be shared.   The above pictures are taken from Facebook.   Some are from Trevor Peterson, others from David Wallach (coach/owner at Crossfit Rubicon), and the beautiful, watermarked photos were taken by Tai Randall.

You can see more of Tai’s amazing photos from the weekend in his Cold War Facebook album.

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3 Responses to Cold War 2: My First Crossfit Competition

  1. 1
    chi says:

    So bummed to have missed this! Way to rep’ for Rubicon!!!

  2. 2
    Cmanva says:

    I just started crossfit for a month now..its hard work, but I love the changes it has made on my life. Best decision ever.

  3. 3
    Carl says:

    As someone relatively new to CF this is an EXCELLENT blog
    for me to put the pieces together of what a comp feels like,
    what you have to do and how much work I need to do.

    Thank you for taking the time to share, this is really going to
    help a lot of people. I hope I get to meet you some day!!!

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