17.4 Accomplished

Thanks to CrossFit Sunalta for the pics this week!

Finally! An Open workout where I feel very pleased about my finish.  17.2 and 17.3 were not my jam; however, 17.4 (16.4) was definitely well-suited to my abilities and short stature.

Although I’m anticipating DB thrusters and double-unders for 17.5, I’m taking a moment to enjoy the feeling 17.4 provided.

Dana, Megs, and I went in the first heat. Carol kindly judged for me (thanks Carol!).  Before I started, I asked a few friends to keep an eye on me, and to come yell if they saw me pausing on the rower.  Laura made especially good on that promise.

My warm-up felt a little frenzied – I could have used another 5 minutes – but 10:55 arrived and it was go time.

With my belt on, I stuck to my sets of 5/5 seconds rest strategy for 7 rounds for the deadlifts. Then I hit the wall, and elected to do quick singles to finish up.  I kept reminding myself to breath because I could tell my nerves were kicking in.

I popped off my belt and headed to my wallball. I think I managed two sets of 10 before I did a whole bunch of smaller sets.  My focus was to keep moving and keep breathing.

Somehow I was on the rower before I knew it. When I was warming up, I had done :30 easy, :30 hard for four rounds and coincidentally rowed 55 calories.

For 17.4, I decided to test out a different strategy than my usual “Get on rower.  Pull hard.  Get tired.  Stop rowing.” (patent pending).  Instead I rowed easy (~650 cals/hr) for :15, then hard (~900 cals/hr) for :30 or :45.

I probably looked like I was dogging it, but instead, my psychology change worked!  I could faintly hear Laura, amongst others, yelling at me to keep rowing, but the calories were adding up and I wasn’t dying!  Success!

I was off the rower in 4:10 (11:10 was my tie breaker time, compared to 16.4’s 12:59).

My only goal for 17.4 was to get to the wall for handstand push-ups (HSPU). AND I GOT THERE.  My heart was pounding pretty hard from the row, so my first HSPU was a failed attempt.  Carol clarified that I needed to keep both heels on the wall to complete a rep.  Then I got the hang of it and knocked out 7 kipping HSPU!

My momentum was a bit lost then, and I managed to only squeeze in 2 more reps before the 13:00 was up.  It’s hard to be upside down when your heart is racing!

My score for 17.4 was 174 reps!  (Yes, the number-loving accountant in me was happy for the symmetry of that score.)

Dana enjoyed 17.4 too. I mean, look at this row face:

As usual, I cooled down a tiny bit then judged a few heats after with friends.

I wrapped my day off with a relaxing float at Clear Float, and today my back only feels slightly tight (nothing compared to last year’s can’t-tie-my-shoes). I’ll take that!

Any last bets what 17.5 will be? I’m both terrified and excited for Thursday’s announcement. Thrusters and…?


Tips & Tricks: Open 17.4

Partly I jest, but as I remember from last year what my back felt like after 16.4, I’ll be making an appointment with my friend, fellow crossfitter, and chiropractor Shawn Rennick for next week.  Calgary friends, a good person to know!

Here we are at 17.4 already – March is flying by! 17.1 and 17.2 showcased dumbbells, and I think we were all crying tears of joy to see a barbell in 17.3.  Now 17.4 brings us… 16.4!

17.4 is 16.4

We meet again, 16.4

The great thing about 16.4 is that, as a repeat workout from 2016’s CrossFit Open, the internets are full of recaps and tips.

How do I feel about it?  To quote myself from last year’s blog post (is that vanity at its finest? #YOLO):

I really felt like it was my jam, despite the rowing.  My only regret is not getting to the wall – I know I could have done a few HSPU at least.  But I never would have guessed I would finish the row, so there’s that.

row row row no

Of all the Open workouts that could be repeated, 16.4 is definitely not my worst fear.  I think I’m most pleased that I’ll actually get a good workout in on Sunday, compared to the 17.2 and 17.3 (which due to my stubbornness RX-ing were pretty low-key).

Things that worked well for me in 2016/Plan of attack for 2017

  • Deadlifts – my current one rep max (RM) is about 260#.  My coach Eric advises not attempting RX unless 155# is ~60% of your 1 RM.  Last year I had success with sets of 5, with 5 second rests in between.  Protect your back at all costs!
  • Wall balls – last year I did small sets of 5-6.  I’m hoping to do sets of 10 this year.  My lungs are slightly bigger.  🙂
  • Rowing for calories – not my strongest skill then, and not my strongest skill now. My goal is to just keep moving (I’ve been known to stop outright… like the calories will appear magically without moving the rower… pray for me…).
  • Handstand push-ups (HSPU) – I didn’t get here last year as I rowed my 55th calorie just as the timer went.  My ultimate goal for 17.4 is to get some handstand push-ups!  I can do them… I just need to have time for them (AKA don’t row for eternity).

Tips & Tricks from People Smarter Than Me

Read the workout standards from the Games website (as always) – there are pretty specific rules for HSPU.

Nicole Carroll from the CrossFit Games website offers the following wisdom:

  • Doing smaller sets with designated rests ensures that you can maintain a decent pace for the deadlifts and wall balls.
  • Rowing: make every pull count.  * ahem Kait *
  • Read her post for HSPU tips for when your shoulders are too tired to function.

Coach Eric Barber from CrossFit Currie Barracks/my second home CrossFit Sunalta has a well-rounded post including a warm-up, pacing suggestions, and general science/math awesomeness.  The guy knows what he’s talking about.

  • Have structured work:rest sets in mind for the deadlifts and wall balls.  Know your strengths when picking rep quantities.
  • For the row, focus on keeping your heart rate stable (no redlining!), and towards the last few calories, ensure your breathing is in control for the handstand push-ups.
  • HSPU: small sets from the beginning.

Are you happy to see 16.4 again?  Any lessons learned you’ll be trying out this time around?  I’ll be back next week with a recap of 17.4!

16.4 Accomplished 

Whew, what a weekend! My parents came down to Calgary for a visit on Thursday.  We met them for a very late dinner at Open Sesame (dinner was so-so, but conversation was good).  I was beat from our 20 min AMRAP earlier in the day, and getting up at 5 AM for work, but somehow managed to stay awake until midnight visiting once we got home.

Friday was a marathon shopping day! Mom and I spent pretty much the entire day at Chinook shopping up a storm.  After months and months of living frugally (see: Dana gets laid off), having some new things to wear feels wonderful.  My sister came to join us shopping mid-afternoon and helped me find some different things to wear.  She’s good at picking a million things off the rack at nightmare stores like H&M so that I can at least find a few awesome items.  I don’t have the patience for that kind of stuff on my own.  For dinner, we hosted a family dinner at our place.  In a brilliant stroke of genius, Mom suggested ordering food in, instead of frantically cooking after a day at the mall, and so we ordered pizza from Village Flatbread and it was so, so good.  For dessert, Haley made a cookie layer “cake” with peanut butter icing and it was EVERYTHING and more.  I live for cookies.  And peanut butter.


Saturday morning, Mom and I went for a walk, then Dana went to our niece’s bday party and my folks went to Haley’s Iron Ring ceremony. She is finishing her engineering degree this semester!  While the house was empty, I got busy crafting a wearable box costume for Sunday’s 16.4 Intramurals (our team is “Jacked in the Box”).


After I got cleaned up, we all headed to the Hyatt for the engineering grad banquet.  It was actually more entertaining that it sounds.  #wine  Also, the guest speaker was a U of C alumni who is an astronaut.  So that was pretty cool.

And then it was Sunday! Mom and I walked Penny, then Dana and I raced out the door to CrossFit Sunalta to get warmed up for 16.4.

I was feeling super nervous about it since I knew I was doing the RX, but was scared about hurting my back again.  All the other ladies in my heat were scaling which made me second-guess my original plan to RX, but I stuck with it.  Coach Tim came over before we got started to help me get my handstand push-up (HSPU) station set up, although I wasn’t sure that I would get that far in 13 minutes.  The pressure was on because Dana and I had a team of spectators come to watch – his parents, my parents, my aunt, and Haley and her boyfriend (thanks for coming guys!).

3,2,1… go! The deadlifts actually felt pretty light!  I did them in sets of five, with 5 seconds in between (roughly).  It was definitely a manageable way to break them up.

My wall balls weren’t horrifying. I stuck with my plan to do small sets of roughly 5-6 per round.  Slow and steady.  I only got no-repped a few times.  Which was entirely fair.

The row though. I knew it would be an eternity and it was!  I think I got on the rower at 8:30 (ish).  I reckoned the row would take about five minutes (sad but true) so I definitely didn’t think I’d make the HSPU at that point.  The row was hard – I was tired and out of breath.  As the pros say, I was redlining.  Dana kept telling me to take deep breaths and to do big, hard pulls.  Occasionally I would actually stop rowing because I was dying, but Dana and everyone else kept yelling at me to keep going.  I remember peeking over my shoulder at the clock and realizing I had a minute left and less than ten calories to go – that really helped push me as there was a chance I could finish the row!  I pulled hard and just as the buzzer was going my 55th calorie turned over on the rower.  Yay!

Score: 165

Out of all the 2016 Open WODs, I think I’m most proud of 16.4. I really felt like it was my jam, despite the rowing.  My only regret is not getting to the wall – I know I could have done a few HSPU at least.  But I never would have guessed I would finish the row, so there’s that.


Dana and I actually tied scores for 16.4. He finished his row with about 2 minutes remaining on the clock, but he’d never done a HSPU before so didn’t set up a station beforehand.  Quickly, his judge, Laura, and I raced over to the wall to measure out his HSPU target, and Dana got in a few attempts before the buzzer went.  It was exciting!

After the WOD, we hung out for a bit to cool down and cheer. I got to explain a bit of crossfit stuff to my family, who are pretty new to the whole Open/crossfit thing.  It was nice to share a bit of my world with them.


#bicepslikekait #tomatoface

 We took some Jacked in the Box team photos, and then went to National for a late lunch with my family. After saying good bye to my parents who were flying home, Dana and I headed home for Epsom salts baths.  We were both so bagged from 16.4 and the crazy-busy weekend.  I took Penny out for another walk, then made this AMAZING recipe for supper.  We watched Walking Dead then headed to bed.  It was one helluva weekend!