Competing in 2012 CrossFit Games with Jim Kean

Our founder Jim Kean is competing in the 2012 CrossFit Games – stay tuned on our blog as Jim recounts his personal experience going for gold.

In mid 2010, I joined San Francisco Crossfit(SFCF), as an avid multi-sports training fan since 2007. With steady improvement and encouragement of the awesome coaching staff and upbeat CrossFitters of SFCF, I decided to enter the Games as a Masters 45-50 Year Old Competitor in March 2011. I ended up with a fairly respectable placing of 270th in the world out of around 1,000 people.

One of the most encouraging things for me was that most of the movements I performed during the competition were in many cases completely novel for me, i.e. I had poor technique.

In 2012, I moved into the Masters 50-55 category, competing with a new group. My amazingly supportive wife, Claire, encouraged me to train and improve. Without Claire’s support, I doubt I could have been ready for the Open this year.

Working with the coaches immediately after the Open, I created a list of basic movements, rated where I was and what I needed to work on. The above list reflects where I feel I am going into the games. I could be wrong on some of them (anyone who knows me please feel free to give me your opinion). I definitely would say that the list started in May of 2011 with most of the items in the left handed column.

Friday Night Lights at San Francisco Crossfit

Last Wednesday the 22nd the first workout of the Open (12.1) was posted. Good old multiple muscle group killer – the burpee. However it was a burpee with strict rules around it:

  • Ground Work: When you jumped down to the ground you had to touch your chest and hips.
  • The Jump: When you came up you had to jump up to a pre-measured target at least 6” inches above your hand.
  • An AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible) in 7 minutes.

Let it be said, I actually like burpees. In a 2 minute sprint in October 2011, I did 47, so I was feeling that I had a decent chance of getting a good score.

I am a big Friday Night Lights fan. During the show, Coach Eric Taylor always rallies the players at key points by reminding them:

“Clear Eyes, Full Heart, Can’t Lose”

Our Crossfit affiliate does team workouts on Friday nights, our first one on February 24th. You were assigned a heat with a partner and took turns judging each other. I lucked out to partner with Summer Sahar, a very positive, upbeat person who really cares about Crossfit and doing well.

On the days running up to the event, I ensured I had plenty of sleep, fed myself with good, energy producing foods and watched Carl Paoli’s excellent instructional video  on how to do an efficient burpee.

Going into the event, I set a goal of hitting between 100-110 reps. I showed up around 5:45 pm. I was a little anxious about being late for the preworkout briefing (I hate being late). When my heat was up, the Heat Coordinator Roop went around and measured out targets on the bar for us. I was a little envious that I didn’t get a mat and was going to have to do this on concrete. However, that is the way it goes and I immediately moved ahead and focused on my heat.

My heat started. At first, I was so pumped up that I didn’t realize that I was holding my breath during the first ten reps. Thereafter, I forced myself to breath regularly and easily. After the first 30 reps, I was feeling pretty good but around the 50-60 mark (about 3 minutes) I started to labor for the reps and I noticed my motor skills deteriorating. I also missed a rep or two when I didn’t touch correctly and Summer (correctly) yelled at me to focus on it.

At the 80-90 mark I was hurting and starting to stagger. When you hit this point of an intense workout like this there is a battle between you and your body. Your body wants to quit and your efficiency starts to go down the drain. I could vaguely hear a lot of people around me encouraging me onward but I also had lost count and had no idea where I was rep-wise.

The last 45 seconds I badly wanted to just stop and lie down but I forced myself to think of each step of the burpee and make my muscles move. Bend over, squat slightly, kick the legs out, touch down, arch the back up, snap the hips up to your feet, raise your torso, jump to the bar. Rinse and repeat.

Time was called and I fell over. Fortunately Claire was behind me so I didn’t whack my head on the concrete. Summer told me I had gotten 99. I was sort of close to my goal but I immediately wondered: “geez, if I had just put out a bit more or did things more efficiently I could have done in the 100-104 range.”

However, all in all I was happy with my result. The top finisher Mike Lyons did 122. My score ended up being 99th out of a group of just under 900 people in my category. There were a whole bunch of us grouped in the 97 to 108 rep level on the Leaderboard.

After about 10 minutes, my recovery kicked in and I started to down lots of liquids and eat everything paleo in sight. My thanks to Juliet and Kelly Starrett for providing the food.

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