One of the things I really like about Crossfit is that it can be accessible to very many people. Anyone can be a Crossfit competitor. Your job, as an athlete, is to do your best, until you too can prove that you’re the cream of the crop.
Crossfit competitions can feel a little bit addicting. They’re a better way to evaluate how far you’ve come, your strengths, and your weaknesses than the average WOD in your box. It forces you to put a spotlight on your performance and take a good look at where you really stand.
All of this is especially true when competing individually, meaning without a team or a partner. Gustavo and I finally had the chance to try this ourselves about two weeks ago for WODSunset, a two-day competition held in Nitéroi, just across the water from Rio de Janeiro.
WODSunset, like most competitions in Brazil, had both individual and team categories. What was unique is that they also offered a Scaled Individual category, which is rare. There are a lot of logistics and planning that go into coordinating a competition and, often, there’s just too many people to manage when adding a category for individual scaled athletes.
Personally, I hate doing group competitions, mostly due to the language barrier. If I’m going to partner with someone, I strongly, strongly prefer that it be Gustavo because we can speak to each other in Portuguese and English to coordinate our strategy, which is much, much easier than me trying to get through Portuguese in the heat of the moment with anyone else. Plus, we’re partners in life, so why not partners in WODs? I know what his facial expressions mean, what he’s thinking, how we should switch things up, and vice versa.
Our experience at WODSunset was, overall, a good one. We both ranked at the middle of our category – 34 out of 60 for me, and 49 out of 80 for Gustavo – which is what we were hoping for. On our last competition, we were very close to last and after months of really difficult training, we were pleased with the jump we were able to make. In particular, Gustavo went all out on the clean + hang clean PR event (he was able to lift 105kg/231.5lb) and on the last workout (12 calorie bike + 15 overhead squats with 25kg + 12 toe raises), I came in third in my heat. I also got a PR on my clean, too, of 55kg/121lb!
A few challenges that threw us off were the rope climb and, for me, the language. One of the workouts included a 5-meter rope climb, which is considerably higher than the average rope. On top of that, there was no padding or flooring underneath the rope – that is, aside from pure, solid, and extremely hard concrete. It messed up a lot of athletes, ourselves included, and it definitely shifted my mental focus going into that workout. It was frustrating to see how little precaution was taken for the athletes’ safety, especially considering the number of people participating and how much that came to in entrance fees that could’ve been put towards a mat of some sort.
On the language front, I knew it was going to be challenging at times and it went pretty much as I expected. The event organizers held a briefing a few days before, online, rather than at the event on the morning of. While it’s a good idea for efficiency and timeliness, it didn’t give us a visual of what needed to happen during each workout. I was in the very first heat on the first day, so I didn’t have the opportunity to watch anyone else doing the workout. Just prior to entering the field, the organizers would give us an overview of the workout.
For me, it was almost like listening to the teacher from Charlie Brown. Between how quietly they were speaking, the noise of the audience and music, and the adrenaline, I barely understood what they were saying and wasn’t able to ask for clarification as effectively as I would have liked. On a few workouts, I lost a couple of seconds here and there (which adds up!) facing the wrong direction or trying to understand exactly how many reps I had left.
In two more weekends, we’re going to do another competition, but this one will be more for fun. We’ll be going to Survive Challenge as a couple and we’re hoping all of this experience and training translates over into our rankings as a duo this time. I was a little nervous about doing two competitions so close to each other, but I’m actually feeling pretty good and ready to go.