Alright, Day 2 of the 2019 Reebok CrossFit Games is in the books. I won’t spoil anything incase you don’t know what’s happened, so, I’ll just go through it play-by-play.
The day started with a running event. They called it the Ruck Run. You ran for a total of 6km with a heavy backpack on your shoulders. All 50 men and 50 women started the race together with the exact same loaded bags. So everyone started with a 20lbs backpack. After 1500m you put an extra 10 lbs in, another 1500m you put another 10lbs in, and on the final 1500m you put another 10lbs in. Starting at 20lbs, ending at 50lbs, total of 6km running.
That was about it. I ran hard. I was about middle of the pack for the men for about the first two laps and was able to pass 10 men on the last two laps. Specifically the last lap I had a good finishing kick. I believe I finished the event in about 12th place, just behind Patrick Vellner. I finished obviously quite exhausted, definitely the limiter was the good pump in the legs. It wasn’t quite as aerobic as when I typically run. Obviously the weight in the pack affected that type of running. I finished feeling a little unsatisfied. Perhaps I should have started really fast like a lot more of the men near the front of the pack and try to hold on. Maybe I could have climbed a few more places. However, that’s what Patrick Vellner did and he slipped back from that pack and ended basically in the same place as myself. So, Pat and I being in fairly good shape and similar conditions in run events, maybe it would have ended the same way it did for him, but obviously we’ll never know that. I was still happy with my effort and didn’t leave feeling there was a lack of fitness in that particular type of domain. Maybe just a little bit of doubt on strategy regarding how I wanted to start the race. Definitely not an event you want to start too aggressive on, however, in hindsight, when you pace something perfectly sometimes you think: oh maybe I should have started faster.
That event was briefed to us in the morning and we had a very quick, almost no warm-up time until we were corralled for that workout. The workout finished, you had a really brief amount of time to cool-down. Then we went to the athlete check-in area. Sat down for a while after checking in. They briefed us for the next event at which time we had about 10 minutes to grab some more things. The men were then shuttled off (well we had to walk) to the other warm-up area in the stadium, so there was very little time between events because of the way they were announcing them.
So the next event was announced quickly, and it was a sprint. You push a sled about 80m, do 18 bar muscle up and then push the sled back. I think the fastest time was about 1:30, slowest time was about 3:00. The main thing there was making sure you do your 18 bar muscle ups as fast as possible. Do them unbroken. You don’t want to jump down and jump back up again, those are precious seconds. Then push the sled as fast as you can.
Warmed up adequately for that. My bar muscle ups felt good in the warm up area. I’ve been working a lot on those this year with the help of my main coach, Nick Fowler at Brute Strength, but also the gymnastics coach, Nick Sorrel. Looking forward to displaying the hard work I had put in on that particular movement.
Probably more work had been put in on ring muscle ups this year, and it doesn’t look like I’ll get to display those because once the bar comes up, the rings don’t usually come up as well.
So, got out on the floor. 3 – 2 – 1, go, push the sled. It stopped dead in its tracks and the front of the sled pitch dug in and the back came up. Then I pushed it again and grabbed it a little lower, trying to feel like I was lifting the front off as I pushed. It was a pretty big grind to get to the other end of the floor. My legs were pretty lactic, but trusted that they would recover a bit on the bar muscle ups (as you obviously don’t need your legs on bar MUs).
So immediately turned around and jumped on the rig. I could hear my judge counting my reps and I could also hear the coach next to me counting Björgvin Karl Gudmundsson’s reps. He was able to get under the bar one rep ahead of me. For the remainder of the 18 bar muscle ups, he stayed one rep ahead of me. He finishes his 18th, I finish my 17 and then did one. I was stoked that I did the 18 unbroken quite easily and was able to do them at what I thought was a pretty good pace. I didn’t pause at the top of the bar and I was able to make the eccentric portion on the way down quite quick as well – falling and gliding into the next rep quickly. Björgvin is a little shorter than me and typically has fast gymnastics I think. So for me to go rep-for-rep with him, I felt like that was a good pace.
Dropped down and immediately went to my sled which I turned around after my first lap. I thought that was the right thing to do because turning it around doesn’t take too much juice and it would give me a little bit of a break before going to the bar. But as soon as I finished that part I knew I’d want to get started again on the sled and finish the event fast.
Sled was set up nicely for me, went to push it, the front dug into the ground a bit. Went to push it again, dug into the ground a bit. Push it again and it got caught on the tape marker that was on the turf field. So then I got really low, put my hands on the handles probably 12 inches off the ground, locked the arms, kept the core tight, cycled the feet as fast as I could. Started at 100% effort and trusted that I wouldn’t have to stop, and just push as hard as I’ve ever pushed knowing there were a lot of men just in front and behind me. Just gave a 100% effort on that sled push. Was really happy with the workout as a whole, pushed until the last inch. Got it across the line, lay on the floor, my quads and the rest of my legs and my breathing was completely fried. Felt really satisfied that there probably wasn’t a single second I could have saved other than not digging the sled into the turf. But, those are the kind of things that happen when you haven’t touched a piece of equipment before sometimes. I felt like I stayed calm and adapted to the situation pretty well.
Obviously having done that improperly the first time, perhaps on the way back, having a better plan – pushing lower – would have been good. In the heat of the moment I made the same mistake twice.
Anyways, I finished the event. Was leaving the floor feeling good. I felt like I had a good finish. I could sort of hear the announcer talking, it was hard to tell, but I thought I finished quite high in my heat. I just thought based on my efforts and my execution that it would have been a pretty solid score. It wasn’t until about maybe 20 minutes later that I was conversing with another athlete and I think I checked the leaderboard. I realized I was in 27th in that workout. Honestly, it took me by surprise. It didn’t really change my outlook on my performance or my effort but was really quite shocked that I placed 27th on that workout given how well I thought I executed. I mentioned to someone once, I think it was in 2017 that I never lost a workout with a sled at a competition before. Done numerous smaller competitions and the sled has shown up at the Games a few times, and I think at a certain point I was undefeated in sled workouts. So I feel like I do quite well in sled workouts. Pays to have longer legs and to be a little heavier typically when dealing with sleds and moving them distances.
Coming 27th was a bit of a shock, especially ‘cause I was feeling like I did quite well. After speaking to a few other athletes, haven’t yet to see the video, but apparently a few lanes were moving a little quicker than others. And perhaps as the heats went along from the first mens heat, to the second, to the womens, and the next womens, the sled and the turf heated up a little more. It seemed as if the later heats were a bit slower as the sled got hotter and friction increased.
I don’t know how much validity there is to that, or if certain lanes are faster than others, or certain heats are faster than others. Nothing I can do about that, there’s no way to alter a score, but, I was happy with my execution and that’s all you can worry about in these sorts of competitions.
Came back, again, waiting for the women to finish. As soon as they finished they had a very quick turn around. I don’t think the last heat of women got a chance to ice and cool down their bodies after that gruelling event. Came back right to the athlete briefing area, where we were told what the final workout of the day – the third workout of the day – the fifth workout of the competition. It would be a benchmark workout called Mary, which was an AMRAP format. Typically in these competitions you have 4 times, so you finish the workout, you run to the mat, you celebrate. This one, no one would get that opportunity, we would all continue to just work until time expired for 20 minutes, accumulating as many reps as possible in that time.
It was 20 minutes of three gymnastic movements. You’d complete 5 kipping handstand pushups, 10 pistols (one legged squats) and 15 kipping pull ups, getting the chin over the bar on each rep.
They announced that, and they said they’d be cutting the field again from 30 down to 20 at the end of Mary. Immediately I was a little concerned and I checked which place I was in. I was in 15th. I didn’t bother looking at points, but I obviously knew this could be a do or die situation because the gap between 15th and 21st was likely very small in the points standings.
Also a workout like Mary, which is all gymnastics, isn’t as good for me historically being a taller and heavier athlete. Body weight movements for a lot of reps don’t usually go quite as well. However, I have been working a lot on my HSPU, not quite as much on my kipping but putting a lot of work on strict and strict deficit. That’s sort of what my coach and I had anticipated would be the test this year, a deep deficit for a lot of reps and weights so that’s sort of where we put our money so to speak, and our training volume.
Pistols, I had been feeling good enough lately. Obviously my cycle time being a little longer and heavier has never been a strength, but I can usually rep them out consistently. My pull up’s lately have been going well, or better than they ever have. So I had some confidence that I could execute a pretty smooth strategy on the workout. Go unbroken on the HSPU, take as few breaks as possible on the pistols, and then the pull up’s I’d start with sets of 9, quick break, then 6, and as the workout progressed if I needed to break a little more, I would.
I was excited for the opportunity, and made sure in the back of my mind there was a lot of intensity, a lot of focus, knowing this could potentially be my last workout at this year’s CrossFit Games. Was really pushing the pace and trying to race against my own potential. As the workout dragged along, it became apparent that I would likely be last in the heat, or close to last. So I didn’t really look at the rest of the field. I imagined they were tied with me and I was racing them rep for rep, as opposed to coming to the realization that they were a round, or two, or three ahead of me.
As the workout drew on, started to feel my hands tear in a few spots. Each round, a little new spot might emerge and by the end my hands were fairly red with a decent amount of blood. Not something I typically have happen in my training and it’s obviously an injury that will keep you from performing at a high level the next day of competition or training. This potentially being my last event, I kept pushing through it. Didn’t really hurt, it just caused my hands to be a little more slick on the pull up bar. I needed to get a little more chalk so that slick factor was minimized.
I probably got only two no rep’s on my pull ups, and maybe one on my HSPU. Otherwise, was really happy with my effort. Push really hard. I believe I finished 16.5 rounds in the 20 minutes which I was happy with. I felt like that was a pretty good indicator of where I was at in that workout. In comparison, I think the top score for the men was almost finishing 23 rounds. A pretty substantial gap between me and the best in the sport in that particular test. It’s a little daunting and a little frustrating, but nevertheless nothing I can do about that except work on them for the following year.
Workout finished, and I was happy. I was happy with my execution, happy with my effort. Felt like I didn’t leave anything on the floor on that last workout. Left, started cooling down, had some good chats with some people, and was able to check the leaderboard. Sure enough, I finished in 23rd place overall. In that particular workout I finished 28 out of 30 athletes. So very close to the bottom of the pack of men. I think two men in the previous heat I was able to beat by a few reps.
So, with that, because I didn’t finish in the top 20 overall, it appears that my CrossFit Games is over. I was told to still come tomorrow morning to check-in on the off chance there was some leaderboard change as there might be a few scores that are slightly adjusted due to some judging issues or something like that. The chance of that affecting my score as there’s still 2 men ahead of me, although only by 4 points between me and 20th place which isn’t a whole lot, the likelihood is probably less than 1%.
I’ll still get some good food in me tonight, get a good night’s sleep and show up tomorrow morning. As it appears, tomorrow morning, the next cut will be made after the first workout.
The first workout tomorrow, there’s been a loose announcement, that it will be a shuttle run. So you’ll run down the field and run back and just a straight up sprint. So the fastest men will get more points and they’ll cut again from the top 20 men to the top 10 men. Those top 10 men will finish the next 2 days of competition.
I’ll come tomorrow morning with my shoes laced up on the very small likelihood that I’ll get to compete. However, even if I were to get to compete, it appears the point separation assuming I’m 20th, to 10th would be so large that it would undoubtedly be my last workout of the weekend.
With that, I wanted to say thank you to those of you reading this blog post and for following me along for this weekend, and likely for much longer than that. Obviously this isn’t the placement I was hoping for after coming 4th, 2nd, 4th in the world the last three years. I put pretty high expectations on my own performance and you probably won’t find a more harsh critic of this weekend than myself. However, I finished the day in good spirits. After the last event there were no tears, and really not much frustration, it was really just a submission to the result. It’s so far been a really quick weekend. Its felt a little different than the other years, each event has had a cut and any slight weakness in the capacity that these events tested has cut athletes. I’ve come away from this weekend with 5 workouts. I probably executed perfectly to my potential on I would say 3 of them. The run, I could have maybe gone a little faster for a few more points. Obviously I’ll look back on the handstand walk workout in Event 2, falling near the finish line, was pretty detrimental, lost quite few points there. However those mistakes, I can’t really dwell on them as I’m sure by the end of the weekend every athlete will have just as many, or more than that. There’s still athletes sitting near the top that have made a fair number of mistakes already this weekend, and they’re doing just fine. It doesn’t mean I can take away from the competitors ahead of me as they’re having great runs this weekend, all showing their fitness and their capacity, and their ability to perform in what has been so far a very unique CrossFit Games. And a very challenging one, both mentally and physically.
So the plan for the Fikowski group here is to get a good night’s sleep, get ready to run across the field tomorrow morning on the less than 1% chance that something on the leaderboard changes. Otherwise I will spend the next 2 or 3 days here in Madison, WI. I intend to still be a part of the festivities here at the Games. I’ll allow the athletes to have their space in the warm up area so they can continue to perform at a high level, wishing them all the best as they work to reach their goals. I know how much I’ve put into this year, physically, mentally, financially, emotionally, so if they even put a fraction of that (and I know they have) and I’m sure some of them more, there’s nothing but good will and good wishes I can give to them as they continue to pursue their dreams and live out their weekend.
So the rest of the weekend, if you’re still reading this, I’ll be posting some updates on Instagram. I might do some brief appearances or signings at some of my sponsors’ booths. Obviously Reebok has some presence in the vendor village as well as EPIC Bar, Zevia and Ascent Protein. I will do my best to go to those booths or at least one of them in the next two days. I also intend to jump on the live broadcasting of the next event. Try my hand at a little bit of announcing and hopefully add to the colour commentary for the next few days of competition, add my insights as an athlete, cheer on and support, give some insight on what these athletes are going through for the next two days.
Obviously in the next week or so, I’ll be taking some time off from exercising, spending a lot of time with my wife as she’s been supporting me so much this year. It’s been a challenging year for both of us and I just love her so much and I’m so grateful to have her support through thick and thin. It’ll be nice to spend some time away from the sport and sort of re-evaluate the next season and what we have in store. Like I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, when things go down, you have three choices: quit, continue with a good attitude or continue with a bad attitude. I will definitely be continuing with a good attitude into the next season, trusting that my fitness will lead me to some cool experiences and some big top finishes in competitions this coming year. As to where I go, and what competitions I do, I’ll be sure to let you know obviously on my social channels.
Lots of love from the Professor, follow my Instagram (@fikowski) for more updates this weekend.