I guess that most of you reading this will be following me on social media and so will have seen what I got up to at the weekend. For those of you who don’t, I took part in my first ever CrossFit competition. It was awesome and so I thought that I would share a review of it with you. So, let’s start; Inferno Racing Pairs: A Review.
It was a couple of months ago when a friend (Matt) at Second City CrossFit asked if I wanted to enter an Inferno Racing pairs competition with him.
I was very flattered as although I knew I was ok, I didn’t quite yet feel I was up to competition standard. However, my concerns were laid to rest when I was told that it wasn’t an overly technical competition and relied instead on something called grunt work.
Basically, this means carrying heavy things and not stopping. Something I can do.
So, with a nervous flutter in my stomach, I said yes and thought I should at least start to do some extra training so I wouldn’t look like a complete novice when the day arrived.
I quickly put together some training programmes that would take me up to the competition and worked away on them.
Knowing that there would be no serious tests to my technical ability I concentrated on fitness (my engine) and strength. Two areas that require a bit of attention.
Along the way both Matt and myself managed to injure ourselves. I didn’t do anything serious but Matt found out that he had arthritis in his shoulder which would require an operation. Being the trooper he is, Matt decided that he could wait until after the competition to have this done as he didn’t want to let me down.
Finally, the weekend arrived, and we headed up to the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield to register for the first day. The Institute of Sport is a fantastic venue and has been the home to some of the best Olympians of the past decades. It consists of a huge hanger containing a 200m running track and all the athletics training areas that would be needed.
The weekend was going to run a bit like this:
- There would be 4 workouts or WODS during the first day and 3 WODS the second day
- Pairs would be arranged into heats depending on sex and age
- Between each WOD there would be a rest of around 2 hours
As you can see there would be a lot of hanging around between events though this would give us time to warm up and watch others from Second City CrossFit compete. Watching others compete is a useful tactic as well, as it allowed us to think how we were going to work together.
As you can see, this WOD promises quite a big work load in a short period of time. Matt and I had, had a little practice the week before so we thought we could manage it in the time but how we quick we would be, was in doubt.
All I wanted to do was finish and not make a spectacle of myself.
I can’t remember much about the WOD itself other than I started with the burpees and finished on the shoulder to overheads.
My lasting impression was that we had started way too quick and as we reached the final round we were relying on determination and sheer will to get us through to the end.
With a finishing time of 10:50 we were in 10th place after the first event.
It was good to get the first WOD done as it went some way to settling my stomach so I concentrate on doing my best for all the other events.
Event 2 was probably the one I was looking forward to the most as lifting heavy stuff was something I had practised as part of the lead up. I had also been a little bit cheeky with my bootcamp classes and had programmed a lot of heavy carries so I could join in. Sorry guys!
Although the event probably looks a lot more complicated, it was essentially a relay race where you had to carry or pull something.
We had been watching others and saw that there didn’t really seem to be any other way than running as fast as you could and hoping for the best. A theme that was to be repeated before the weekend was out.
I decided to go first this time and it paid off as we quickly took the lead once we got to the kettlebell section. Our lead grew every round until we won our race with a time of 2 minutes leaving us third for this event and fifth overall.
I just remember that by this point, breathing was becoming more difficult due to the amount of effort we had put in.
I was still having fun though.
This WOD had left me lying awake at night having as shoulder to overheads are my least favourite of movements and when I had injured myself doing them during training it had left me with confidence issues.
I didn’t want to injure myself yet again and ruin my weekend. So, with that in mind and the fact that Matt had arthritis in his shoulder we went in at conservative 70kg first 3 rep max.
We both hit that and the sensible side of me would have left it there but Matt knew he could lift more. Throwing on weight that he thought was equal on both sides, he cleaned the bar but it was clear that it wasn’t and he leaned heavily to one side.
There was consternation in the air as Matt threw on more weight trying to equal it out but putting the weight up to 90kgs and too heavy for him to safely lift.
With only a few seconds left, I moved some weight around and we both managed a lift of 75kgs. At least we had added another 10kgs to our 150kg final total.
With only a minute’s rest we had to strip the bar to 30kgs and get ready for the second part.
This went well to start with and we divided up the workload between us. As we progressed, Matt’s shoulder was starting to give him a lot of pain so we decided that he would do more on the assault bike and I would do a few more thrusters. This seemed to work but as we came to the close and with only a few seconds left on the clock, I couldn’t work out which plates to take off the bar and which ones to put back on to get to the final 70kg thrusters.
It was too late, we had run out of time.
We had finished in 12th for 3A and joint 7th for 3B.
This sounded really easy but by this time Matt and I were knackered along with everybody else and for many of us, our muscles had started to cool and become tight. As we watched the other heats run around the 200m athletics track we saw several people pull up with pulled claves and hamstrings.
As we neared the start of our race, my right Achilles tendon and calf was starting to get very tight; I didn’t want to be joining the others in the “old crossfitters graveyard” that was starting to get larger and larger. The sooner we got started, the better.
The start went well and after the first 200m we lay in second place with those in first way ahead. As I was handed the baton for the last time all I wanted to do was hold the other teams off and leave Matt in a decent position for the final leg.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be and another runner glided past me like he was out getting a Sunday morning paper just as my legs were beginning to tell me that that they couldn’t give much more.
I was glad to hand the baton to Matt and whilst lying down to catch my breath I watched as he clawed his way back to second with a finish-line scramble which left the other athlete crawling over the line on his hands and knees.
We finished in 10th place and 5th overall for the day.
To say we were tired and stiff would have been an understatement but it was Father’s Day and we both wanted to get done and home before it was too late but first we had to warm up for the next event.
Fuelled by black coffee, we started event five and were going pretty well until I forgot what we had to do next, which cost us a couple of seconds.
Matt again was struggling to use his bad shoulder properly and so we decided that I should finish off the snatches whilst he could do more lunges. The luges were extremely difficult but we got there in the end.
This WOD went by in a blur of box jump overs and cleans (I still have the bruises a week later) and I was very glad that we got it done and it was out of the way.
We finished in a time of 10:14 and joint 14th. It felt much quicker at the time.
WOD 6 was the assault course and was just a series of walls to climb over. Assault courses were something I was pretty good when I was a kid when I would spend hours training with the Army Cadets but as I have gotten older, my confidence when leaping over walls has seeped away.
Plus, we watched earlier as someone had taken a swan dive off the top of one and had been knocked unconscious.
I wasn’t overly looking forward to this.
We decided (I wasn’t in favour) to race some of friends who we had been neck and neck with throughout the whole competition so far, so as we lined up there was honour on the line.
We started and immediately Matt disappeared like a jack rabbit leaving me to wobble my way across. It felt extremely slow and I watched in horror as the guy next to me from the other team took a tumble and land on his hand. Hearing a snap, I hoped that he had just slapped the ground but as I progressed I heard a shout for a Paramedic.
After finishing, it was very clear that he had broken his wrist and we found out later that he required an operation. Ouch!
I was happy to have finished in one piece and 9th.
The final event
Matt and I were both getting a bit tired by this stage. Old men don’t fair well when they are away from their family for the whole weekend, especially on Father’s Day and we were no exception.
Our strategy for this one was just get it done and maybe we would get home before our kids were in bed.
Because of this, I would say this was our worst performing event. We didn’t have a clear strategy and after doing the down-ups extremely fast (we led at that point) we were dying and just managed to hold it together to finish.
There were times when both Matt or I could have quit as trying to breathe with a 20kg sand bag on your shoulders whilst running around the track was no mean feat.
But we hung on in there and finished 13th and 10th overall.
We were done and could shoot home to see the kids.
For our first event, I think we did very well. I absolutely loved taking part and know we can both do much better in the future. That’s when my legs start working again.
From my performance I have some clear ideas of where I need to improve including my engine and jerk technique but now I know what I have to do.
The event is very inclusive and participants with only a basic knowledge of the movements are able to take part and give it a good go as well. There really is something in it for everyone.
The venue was also amazing and so it should be as it’s the National Institute of Sport. There wasn’t a great choice of food on offer but luckily, we had been told this beforehand and could take our own.
The one thing that always surprises me at CrossFit events is the level of support there is from people you don’t know.
Our Second City CrossFit took several teams and the support they gave us was something that got us through to the end but the support we were given by strangers was also amazing.
That lack of clique is something that I really enjoy being around and makes you feel like you are part of a big family.
I would definitely recommend getting to an event like this be that a Wolf Run, a local 5k run or whatever floats your boat. The support will be massive and it will leave you hungry for more.
It will also focus your mind and training like nothing else and force you to make some changes that in hindsight you should have done anyway.
If you are worried about how you will fair then don’t. The community of people that are there with you will propel you to the finish.
What events do you get involved with? Not sure if you would like it? Let us know in the comments section below.
Be all you can be