The Quest for Freeze Fest – Event 4 Announced

On January 17th, I will be competing in the Freeze Fest Team Challenge in the scaled division for the second year in a row. The organizers continue to announce the events and recently released info about Event Four. It is a 5-minute AMRAP of snatches and pull-ups.

RULES:

  • Athletes perform 12 Snatches as a team, then they run to the rig and do 12 pull-ups as a team. Athletes must be together at all times with both at the mat or at the rig before work is completed. Athletes may switch as needed to get the work done.  Score is total reps as a team.
  • Snatches: 95/63lb
  • Score is total reps as a team.
  • Run distance will be given at the event.

Why must the CrossFit gods continue to taunt me?!? This is now the second of four events focused around the Olympic lifts. Can’t we just do some back squats for time?

Regardless, I feel good about the running distance as I started doing track workouts on Saturday mornings. And I also feel very confident in my pull-ups. I have been working on strict pull-ups two times per week, both close-grip and wide-grip.  I know that concentrated effort will translate over to being able to knock out a set of 12 kipping pull-ups.

Maybe my partner can just take care of all the snatches? I am half joking, but as I start to now think through the events, I’m reminded of the importance of a great partner and an excellent strategy. There will be many conversations over the next few weeks as we put together our game plan so that we can best leverage each other’s strengths.

We are just over thirty days away. I am getting excited!

The Quest for Freeze Fest – Event 3 Announced

On January 17th, I will be competing in the Freeze Fest Team Challenge in the scaled division for the second year in a row. Quick on the heels of announcing that Event 2 would involve a speed sled push and sprints, the organizers revealed that Event 3 would be a heavy sled push plus thrusters and burpees. And it starts one minute after the previous event!

The athletes will take turns pushing the sled from one station to the next. Among the three stations, the rep scheme is 12-9-6 Thrusters/Bar Facing burpees.

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Rules:

  • Female pushes sled into the front of the first work zone until the judge says stop, the male will move the bar into the first work zone. Once the judge has given the signal to stop the male does 12 Thrusters, 12 burpees over the bar. Once the male completes the 12 Thrusters and Burpees the female pushes the sled to the next station and the male carries the barbell to the station and does his set of 9, and then the same for the set of 6.
  • After the male is done with his burpees the athletes will remove 15lbs from each side of the bar (10lbs for scale) and add the weight to the sled + 2-45lb plates which will be set up in the middle of the field. Athletes will switch roles, and keep working their way down the field.
  • Once all the work is finished the athletes will leave the equipment in the last work zone and run across the line.
  •  There is a 7 minute time cap.

Movement Standards:

  • Thruster: This is a standard barbell thruster in which the barbell moves from the bottom of a front squat to full lockout overhead. The bar starts on the ground. No racks allowed. The hip crease must pass below the knees. A full squat clean into the thruster is allowed if the bar is on the ground. (Rx: 95lbs/ 65lbs;  Scaled: 65lbs/45lbs)
  • Bar Facing Burpee: Each burpee must be performed perpendicular to and facing the barbell. Your head cannot be over the barbell. The chest and thighs touch the ground at the bottom. You must jump over the barbell from both feet and land on both feet. One-footed jumping or stepping over is not permitted. The next rep will then begin on the opposite side facing the barbell.

I feel very confident in my ability to handle the weights for the thrusters in the scaled division. They will be tiring, especially thanks to being coupled with the burpees, but this will be more a test of endurance and mental grit than pure strength. Nevertheless, in the coming weeks, as awful as it sounds, I’m going to have to start throwing both movements into the mix as part of my overall training.  (I never thought I would volunteer to do that.)

The Quest for Freeze Fest – Event 2 Announced

On January 17th, I will be competing in the Freeze Fest Team Challenge in the scaled division for the second year in a row. The organizers have started to announce the events. Event 1 is a Barbell Speed Ladder and now comes word of Event 2 – a Speed Sled.

Now sledding typically makes me nervous. Two years ago, I tried to be a true Minnesotan and went sledding with some friends. Next thing I know (because I don’t remember anything in between), I was laid up in a hospital bed recovering from a concussion and bruised ribs. The lesson learned was always wear a helmet, kids. Thankfully, this type of sledding is indoors and now snow or ice is involved.

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The description they provided is pretty simple: Female athlete pushes sled down, then she will sprint without the sled down and back.  She will tag the male and he does the same. (Field is approximately 60 yards/180 ft. long)

There is a 3 minute time cap. And the most interesting thing to note is that there is only a 1 minute transition until event three.

I am very excited for this event. It is just plain fun, not only to do but also to watch. Plus, compared to last year’s partner carry, I feel confident I won’t slip and fall on my face.

I have access to sleds at Los Campeones to help me train and am looking into some indoor tracks to do some sprint intervals in preparation. Pushing the sled 60 yards is no joke and following that with a 120-yard sprint is going to leave everyone breathing heavy, but it’s a great equal opportunity event for all the athletes to shine. The only question is what do we have to catch our breathe for in Event 3?

The Quest for Freeze Fest – Event 1 Announced

On January 17th, I will be competing in the Freeze Fest Team Challenge in the scaled division for the second year in a row. With snow in the forecast, the organizers knew winter was coming and decided it was the perfect time this past Friday to announce that the first event is a barbell speed ladder. Here’s the breakdown of what that means:

event1RULES:

  • Each station has 2 barbells.
  • Athletes will have 2:00 to get through the ladder.
  • Score = Time it took to complete or 2:00 + :01 for each number of barbells not lifted.
  • 1 rep per person, Athletes must be at the same station. If one cannot make the lift the other may move on but the team will be time capped and the lifter that missed the lift is done lifting. Once a team moves on to the next station they may not go back even if there is time left on the clock.
  • 1 athlete lifts at a time. 1 barbell on the mats at a time, except for deadlift. Athletes will get a no rep if they lift before the other barbell is on the mats.
  • There will be two bars at each platform/ station. Both will be off the station when you get there. The first athlete will roll the bar forward onto the mat. Do his or her lift and roll the bar off. After that the other athlete will roll the bar onto the mat and complete his or her lift. After that they move to the next station and repeat.

MOVEMENT STANDARDS:

  • Snatch – Snatch, power, split snatch are permitted. Hang snatch is not permitted. The feet are the only body parts that may be in contact with the ground at any time. If an athlete comes to his or her knees they will receive a no rep. Athlete must catch the bar above the head without any contact above the hips. A small press out is permitted as long as the bar is caught above the head. The lift ends when the bar is overhead and all joints are locked out, with the feet within shoulders and the athlete has gotten the the “good” signal from the judge.
  • Clean and Jerk – Clean, power, split are permitted, Hang clean is not permitted. The feet are the only body parts that may be in contact with the ground at any time. If an athlete comes to his or her knees they will receive a no rep. Bar must make contact in the front rack position before the bar moves overhead. Split jerk, push jerk, push press permitted. The lift ends when the bar is overhead all joints are locked out, with the feet within shoulders and the athlete has gotten the the “good” signal from the judge.
  • Deadlift – Standard deadlift only. Sumo deadlift is not allowed. Bar starts on the floor. Hands may be pronated or alternating. Hands must be with feet width. Athlete lifts the bar to the full extension with shoulders behind the plane of the bar and knees and hips locked out at the top. The rep ends when the judge has given the “good” signal.

SCALED WEIGHTS:

  • Station 1: Snatch 95/65lb
  • Station 2: Clean and Jerk 115/75lb
  • Station 3: Deadlift 225/135lb
  • Station 4: Snatch 135/ 85lb
  • Station 5: Clean and Jerk 155/105lb
  • Station 6: Deadlift 315/185lb

As they say in Minnesota, “Oofda!” This event is a fast and furious way to start the morning, but as predicted it is strength-based. Last year,  the organizers kicked things off with a clean ladder. And similarly, at the Dakota Games, they began the competition with a 3-rep bear complex. There is a science to the madness, I just wish that the snatch wasn’t in the mix.

While the clean and jerk weights are heavy, I know I am capable of doing them and doing so in one attempt. However, I have never done a 135# snatch before. With it being such a time sensitive event, there is no room for hesitation or doubt. You have to attack the bar with confidence and attitude and telling yourself you can do this.

Though all the positive thinking as one can muster will not help if you lack the strength and proper form. I will need to drill the movement over the next two months in preparation. It would greatly behoove myself to do a progression in anticipation. And at the same time, I can’t forget to work on the other two lifts as well.

What do you suggest? Any recommended programming or drills that I should follow? Leave your recommendations in the comments section below.

The Freeze Fest Play by Play

About 48 hours ago, I was throwing an extra pair of socks, a bottle of Ibuprofen and some Larabars into my gym bag to head off to the Freeze Fest Team Challenge. This was to be the culmination of sixteen weeks of training. A chance to see if all that hard work paid off.  A chance to put it all on the line and fight like hell for a win.

Team Holy Rollers
Team Holy Rollers

After finding a parking space, checking in, and getting my sneakers on, it was already time for the athlete briefing. The organizers went through all of the rules and standard movements required for the six events. As you can imagine, there were a lot of questions from the horde and suddenly it was 7:45am and the challenge was about to start in fifteen minutes. I quickly devoured 4 hard-boiled eggs and three strips of bacon and started warming up.

The amazing thing about the morning was that I surprisingly calm and relaxed. I have done Tough Mudders and half-marathons in the past and before each one I was noticeably antsy and nervous. I would generally not be pleasant to be around. I think the difference this time was that there were few unknowns with Freeze Fest in terms of the events – no unannounced obstacles, no concerns about getting electrocuted, no anxiety about running for 2+ hours straight. My teammate Alice and I had practiced all the lifts and movements involved and so I knew what lay ahead of us for the day. We had a strategy worked out and I knew that Alice had trained as hard as possible to prepare. Of course there would be unknowns in terms of how we would perform, but I felt ready.

Event 1 – The Clean Ladder: The event was simple – 15 platforms, each with an increasing amount of weight on the bar that you and your partner had to clean and then hang-clean. The problem was that my PR in the clean was 135 pounds and that was the weight at the second platform. I was able to do the clean on my first attempt but failed at the hang-clean, which meant I had to start again. On the second attempt, I got the clean, but was struggling to complete the hang-clean. I stuck with it and got the rep. Yet that simple victory was quickly over when I got to the 155 pound bar and could not get it up. Thankfully, Alice was able to progress to the 5th platform and got a clean at 125 pounds. She wasn’t able to get the hang-clean but her successful clean earned us a much needed point. The clean ladder was never going to be our strong suit, despite all the practice over the last few months as we both are more gifted towards cardio and endurance over strength. It was a crushing start to the day as we knew that with such low weights we would be at the bottom of the pack.

Thankfully no one photographed or video taped the fall.
Thankfully no one photographed or videotaped the fall.

Event 2 – Sandbag Run: With a 3-minute time cap, the sandbag run was going to be fast and furious. Each of us had to run 50 yards, do 10 squats with a sandbag, run another 50 yards carrying the sandbag and then carry our partner 50 yards. We had practiced a few times and had even attended the test run at the Union Depot and knew this would be a great event for us. And it was until I picked up Alice, carrying her piggy-back style, and suddenly fell. I am not if it was that the marble floor was slippery or that I was off-balance, but we fell hard. We could hear a gasp from the crowd, but we stood up and Alice jumped on my back and we trudged ahead. Alice moved as fast as possible to make up for it and she carried me across the finish line, even though the women were not required to carry the men in our Scaled Division. We finished in just over 2 minutes. The fall had cost us precious time and we again found ourselves at the bottom of the leader board.

Event 3 – Deadlifts: After the first two events, Team Holy Rollers was in last place. Weneeded a comeback. And we need to adjust our attitude. Seeing the live results had taken the wind out of our sails, but we got our head back in the game. Alice and I have a very clear strategy for the deadlifts in event 3. Our score would be the total amount of weight lifted in three minutes and we were turning it into a cardio workout. Both of us loaded our bar to be 105 pounds and we moved fast. She did 30, I did 30, she did 20, I did 20, she did 15, I did 15 and she finished with a last set of 10. My coaches, Kayser and Joe, were in the crowd cheering us on and while Alice was going they told me to make sure to keep my neck down, which definitely helped my form. Overall, we accumulated 140 reps, which equaled 14,700 pounds. We had never done that many in practice and were elated. However, in retrospect, the strategy didn’t work. We should have been lifting as many reps but at a higher weight. I believe we probably did more reps than most teams, but they scored higher thanks again to more strength.

Event 4 – Burpee Box Jumps: The event was three minutes for you and your partner alternating turns to accumulate as many burpee box jumps as possible. Despite one of the organizers telling all the athletes during the morning’s briefing that step-ups were “bullshit”, they were allowed according to the rules for the scaled division. And Alice and I used it to our advantage. We knew going in we could keep a better pace and rhythm by doing step-ups and ensure that we were fully extended at the top of the box to make sure each rep counted. And it ended up that we had a lot of reps to count. We got 76 reps total and ended up coming in third place overall for the event among the Scaled Division.

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Holy Rollers took 3rd place in Event 4.

Event 5 – Double-Unders: Alice and I started off strong with me stringing a set of 20 or so together and then her tagging in and keeping a steady pace. It was my turn again and somehow, during this second set, my rope broke. The handle came right off and slid across the floor. It was a quick tag to Alice to continue moving and accumulate reps. When she exhausted her set, she handed me her rope but I couldn’t do much with it as it was too short for me. Back to Alice to keep us moving. In the meantime, I looked around for a nearby solution. Where the hell was I going to get another rope!?! Suddenly, I saw my friend Jake walking by and I screamed at him to give me his rope. With less than minute left, Alice tagged me in and I was able to string another set of 20 or so. One or two turns each and our time was up. Overall, we accumulated 134 reps. There was nothing we could about my broken rope. As so often in life, you don’t get a do over.

Event 6 – Fran + Running: This was it. The final event of the day for us, as we knew that unless some miracle happened there was no way to crack the top six to make it into the finals. Regardless, we still wanted to finish strong and improve our ranking. The event was 21 thrusters, 21, pull-ups and then a 200 meter run, this was followed by a round of 15 plus the run and then 9 plus the run. We could split up the work anyway we wanted and again we had a clear strategy: 11-10-11-10, 8-7-8-7, and 9-9. In each round, Alice would go first. This meant in the final round she would do all the thrusters and I would do all the pull-ups. We felt good and that attitude propelled us through the event. Alice, as expected, killed all her thrusters and pull-ups. I, happily, was able to do the same, especially the pull-ups. My friend Leo later commented, ” I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such fast pull-ups. Ever.” It is one of the best compliments I have ever received. Alice and I ran hard. Knowing that she had help do more than her share of the work throughout the day, what with the fall and the jump rope, I had to prove how much her commitment meant to me. After turning the corner into the last stretch of our final run, I sprinted like hell. Running past her to reach our platform. Not to beat her, but to show her that I was going to end this thing making sure I left it all out there on the floor. She hit the platform, our time was called and we fell to the floor. We had completed the event in 5:43, which was middle of the pack, but we finished. We beat the clock. A feat that 15 of the other teams were unable to do. We were exhausted but exuberant as we exited the arena.

Overall, the Freeze Fest Team Challenge was worth all my time and effort in the gym. Alice and I had our families there to support us, all decked out in matching Holy Rollers shirts. We had our amazing fellow athletes from TwinTown CrossFit, who we trained so closely with, competing along side us in each and every event. And we had our generous coaches and friends cheering us on from the crowd.

By the end of the competition, I felt great. Alice and I made a strong comeback, going from last place after the first two events to moving up 12 spots to finish 47th out of 59th place overall. While we both would have liked to have done better, we faced a series of unfortunate mishaps. Plus, that damn clean ladder. Yet the high highs from the day so far outweigh any of the lows and that’s what we’ll cherish most. I might recall in anecdote how the handle of my rope flung across the tiled marble floor, but I think I will more quickly remember us finishing the last event and hugging each other, despite the overwhelming amount of sweat and chalk, knowing we had given it our all.

However, I can’t discount those low moments as that is where I learned the most about myself. I believe it would have been very easy after falling during the sandbag run and having my jump rope break to accept defeat. I could have mentally checked out for the rest of the challenge and just gone through the motions. But I proved to myself that I am a resilient person, that I can display grace under fire, and that when I am knocked down, I quickly get back up again and keep going. Thankfully in life, I haven’t had to prove this very often. Yet I feel stronger going into tomorrow taking the experience of this competition with me and knowing that I am not fragile. Rather, I am a lot tougher than I ever give myself credit. And I need to start letting that toughness show itself everyday.