2016 CrossFit Open – What We Learned

The 2016 CrossFit Open has come to an end. With the passing of another Open many of our members have taken the time to reflect on their experience and what they’ve learned, whether it was their first Open or their fifth. This is quite a long post, so pull up a chair and enjoy!

Whitney Cappellucci: For some, the Open is the one time of the year for the “Final Exam” of how hard we’ve been working in the past year.
We learned that we often feel discouraged at some points but it is clear that our victories and times of feeling empowered and encouraged outweigh the negative emotions.
Some learned that a huge task (think 84 thrusters and 84 bar-facing burpees) can be broken down into lots of small tasks. They can chip away until the work is all done, even if it seemed “too hard” in the round of 21. This is the same strategy Navy Seals use to get through “Hell Week.” Lots of small tasks, not one week-long task.
I personally am encouraged that it is possible for a tall person to make large improvements in burpee capacity over the course of 2 years ha! (I went from a 143rd place finish on 14.5 to a 40th place finish on 16.5.)

Sean Elks: I learned that it’s a lot more fun being a “one-and-done” athlete.

Kellie Knapp: I learned 1) Focus on myself- it is better (and much more fun) for me to focus on myself, my score, and my fitness, rather than comparing myself to others. It’s a struggle, but it’s something I will continue to work on every day. There will always be someone better than me. I have to do my best and be ok with what I am capable of. If I’m not happy with my performance, I need to look at what my weaknesses are and work on those. But I will never beat myself up because I’m not the best; there will always be someone better, there will always be a workout (or several) that I suck at. All I can do is be me and give my best. I am grateful for the abilities I have been blessed with. 2) It was inspiring to watch many people push through Rx and scaled; it made me so proud to watch people put everything they had on that gym floor and work their butt off to accomplish and defeat those workouts.

Becky Freeman: 1) Knowing when to rest in order to perform at your best for EACH trial to each workout during the Open. 2) Mental aspect: learning that you can fight off the desire to quit during these hard workouts. Trusting yourself that you can & will finish. Making that hard decision to try again if you really feel you can do better…. 3) Integrity to your training workouts are super important to personal success in the Open. Getting by with no reps during classes/workouts the months leading to this competition will only hurt you vs. help you. 4) Having fun & supporting others because everyone is having to go through their own mental & physical battles.

Emily Albonetti: The Humble Games 2016 was another fun (?) experience! After questioning my fitness level the first few workouts and wondering why I am not a Swedish CrossFit “godsdottir”, a year after my surgery, I remembered, I do this for fun. Even though this year was a logistical nightmare due to Castro’s imaginative workouts (or lack thereof, 14.5, amiright?), I loved how everyone still showed up, brought their A game, and cheered all the participants!

Tatiana Lucero: CrossFit’s mental game is just as important as the physical part. Coming from a very competitive sports background, I can definitely say that time and time again, CrossFit has tested me mentally more than any other sport I’ve competed in. Natural ability and past sports can only take you so far. There is no easy way to the top in this sport. You have to work really hard, you have to put in the time. CrossFit rewards the people who bust their ass every single day.

Sara Yingling: I’ve learned a lot this Open…more than any Open I’ve done so far. I’ve learned that as much as I thought I was prepared, I wasn’t. I thought my body would be able to handle the stress of the Open once again, but apparently, it’s still not used to the altitude and dryness of ABQ, my new work schedule (waking up every day at 2:30 a.m.), on top of the level of difficulty in this year’s workouts. I’m not using these as excuses but rather as a learning experience and fuel to come back even better next year. I thought it was one of the most challenging out of the 4 Opens that I have competed in.

Nicholas Souza: Ok so the Open 2016. This is my second Open and though I did not make my goal of top 1,000 in our region I did vastly improve my placement from last year’s Open. That’s my big take away from this year. When I did it last year I was only doing CrossFit for a month or so and Joe was all like “you should do it and do it RX”. At that time the Open was a scary proposition since I didn’t know what to expect at all. I had never heard of it until Joe said I should do it. So a year later and a year better I thought I had a solid goal going into it to make it to the top 1,000, or at the very least do a whole lot better than last year. But we never know what the Dave Castro is gonna throw at us. I did improve 1,500 spots from last year to this year which is encouraging to see improvement over one year of doing CrossFit. Seeing that just gives me the drive to keep going and continuously improve every week day in and day out. It’s also so great competing with the others at the gym and being able to look on the leaderboard to see where we rank against each other. That always helps, the drive to compete with each other and make each other better. So, basically what I’m saying here is what I learned from the 2016 Open, being my second Open, it’s just great to see how I improved over the last year and the spirit of competition that makes us all better. Even though I did not make my goal I believe just taking the small victories of seeing little improvements over time builds to greater things later on and we should always strive to be better rather than just go through the motions. And using small victories will keep us motivated.

Amanda Castillo: From doing the Open this year I learned a lot about myself. I learned that even when I think I can’t continue any longer that I have friends and family there encouraging me to accomplish things I never thought I could. I learned that there is no better feeling than going into something thinking “this is impossible for me” and then just trying it and surprising myself because I could actually do it. I spent 11:30 doing deadlifts and Nak never let me stop because he knew I could finish them. There were a lot of mental challenges for me during this open, but in the end I accomplished what I wanted which was to complete the whole Open prescribed. I learned most of all that it’s okay to listen to those voices of my CrossFit family encouraging me to do something I have never tried and to be proud of myself for trying new things and accomplishing them. I’ve been afraid to do a lot of things in CrossFit and the Open this year changed my view on that, it showed me to not be afraid and just trust.

Mitch Skrotch: This year during the Open, the biggest and most influential thing that I learned was how to persevere and be more mentally tough. Many of the workouts were long and grueling and left me wondering how I was going to continue moving throughout the entire workout. I learned to just stay calm and focus on the task at hand and push through it. I also learned how to be more confident in myself and my abilities by staying calm and just doing the movements we have practiced numerous times.

Callie Vail: Sometimes you just need someone to tell you that you HAVE to do the workout in order to realize that you CAN do it. I was able to do chest to bars for the first time with Patty cheering me on and helping me with form. I also did 16.5 Rx which I would have scaled during a regular workout during the week (and man oh man that was not easy). But who does Crossfit because it’s easy?

Kari Ruma: 1) It is possible to have anxiety, diarrhea, nausea and chest pain all at the same time with no definitive diagnosis of an illness. 2) For 5 weeks, I dreaded Thursday nights like a fat kid dreads dodgeball day in P.E. … but I loved Wednesday WOD with Whitney because it was Active Recovery and the WODs were like being on vacation.  Pass the margarita b*tches. 3) Do not go to the gym on Friday nights because it is VERY F*CKING OVERSTIMULATING with LOTS OF PEOPLE who are cracked out on CrossFit. 4) I am able to contort my face in ways unimaginable when people ask “are you going to do that WOD again?”  [ummmm…..f*ck you please, no…..] 5) If you want to refine your humility, follow an adaptive athlete who is completing The Open. 6) Love it or hate, you voluntarily signed up to be part of a community that demands excellence.

Pablo Castillo: 1) Rest – through personal experience and observations of others going ham on multiple workouts a day 5-6 days a week will inevitably break you down both physically and mentally. The open workout’s themselves are no joke, and trying them twice a week at maximum effort requires some moderate rest time. I know most of us felt this on 16.5. I had to tune back on the number of workouts per day I was doing as well as completely taking the Thursday before the Open workout off. 2) Stress – although it is a competition we need to have fun with it and not stress too much.  These are like any other workout just do them.  I think I was placing too high of a standard on myself and causing myself great stress. 3) Improvement – though I may not have improved my ranking in the region I know I have improved in my fitness, everyone I am sure has.  You just have to remember that everyone is growing in their fitness levels. 4) Motivation – I also learned that arguably there is no better motivation to push yourself as having your friends sitting there cheering you on telling you to keep moving.  I sure didn’t want to let them down so I pushed probably harder than I would have if it was normal workout. 5) The last thing I learned as good food for thought came from Matt Fraser “I know my body can do it, it will hurt for a bit but you just have to do it.”  I took that thought going into 16.5, there were at least three times between the set of 21 and 18 where I straight up wanted to quit and maybe try again Sunday then his comments came to mind along with encouragement from other to just keep trucking on. *Something I did notice as well was 16.1 seem to kill the vibe and fun I had got and craved the year before with the box supporting each other in a “Friday night Lights” kind of thing.  The logistics of the workout made it extremely hard to larger heats and thus turned people off of coming in to compete and cheer each other.  I remember 15.2 where there was an upwards of 30 people in the gym cheering, competing, and having all around fun.

Derek Atchley: “Patience & Pace.” The Open humbles you.

Brian Watkins: The Open- A good motivator for any competition. I learned patience and motivation to do better.

Dave Rose: The Open reminded me that fitness gains are not automatic. Time in the gym is required as well as a balance between diet, rest, and the ever elusive “quality of life”….and beer. I mean good beer, not crap that comes in a can.

Julie Augustine: 1) Inspiration comes from the heart. I attempted my first Rx open because Felicia never gave up on getting a C2B. She was my 16.1 inspiration and all heart 2) You can always count on another 6am-er to remember the Halls Cough Drops when you forgot 3) Oh, and when you are the first group at the Box to complete one of the open workouts… You go in blissfully ignorant. You have no idea how bad it’s going to hurt and how much it’s going to suck. And it does suck. But it sucks awesomely.

Monica Maestas O’Malley: Every week was a physical and mental challenge. The goal was to keep a steady pace, push through the uncomfortable & overcome those challenges. 16.3 was frustrating for me. I look forward to next year. I’m going to work hard on my weakness and remember that sleep, mobility, nutrition and proper recovery is key.

Cathy Nishida: The 2016 Open was eye-opening to see how far I’ve come personally in CrossFit. The first time that I signed up was 2013 when I was fairly new to CF. Some of the required weights were more than my body weight and higher than my 1-rep maxes (sometimes both). There was no scaled division. Fast forward to now, and this year I was able to do all five workouts as RX. Some of the weights are still too heavy for me, but I’m pretty pleased with how I placed within in my age group. And it makes me wish that I signed up those years in between. The Open is a really great motivator to learn new skills or push yourself harder than you normally would. It also sets benchmarks that help track progress over time. While I’m happy that the Open is finally over, I will miss all the excitement during these past five weeks. And I absolutely will sign up next year!

Nak (The Prophet): Cremation is my only hope for a smoking hot body…

Emily Jaramillo: My favorite part of the open is seeing members challenge themselves and accomplish things that they didn’t think they were capable of doing!

Rose Ronquillo: I learned I can lift more weight than I thought, I can do a bar muscle up, and also what I need to improve on. I also came to realize how vast the CrossFit community is!

Juan Garcia: I learned that you’re strongest abilities in CrossFit are not always your strongest during the Open. You are always learning what you need to work on even when you think you’ve mastered the movement, there is alway room to learn and work on things. I learned that hard work will pay off in the long run. I was happy with my score this year but there’s always room to improve. I also learned that recovery, sleep, eating right, and drinking fluids before the workout helps you improve your time or score. Lessons learned.

Marcus Adams: The Open is one of the greatest mentors in CrossFit. I learned many new things in the 2016 Open, but there is one lesson that will stick with me for the entire year. I learned that the leaderboard won’t give you anything great that you haven’t truly worked for. I knew this prior to going into this Open, but I was so sure that I had done everything in my power to get a respectable placement. The countless hours of grinding through workouts trying to improve every weakness. The countless hours of watching my videos over and over trying to remove any flaws in my technique. The hundreds of late nights in bed thinking about what I could do the next day in efforts to becoming the best I could be. My goal this year was to place top 250 in the region. I fell far short of that. With that being said I could cry, pout, and think of every excuse in the book on why I failed, but the leaderboard can’t hear my excuses. The leaderboard is there to show you the fittest man and the fittest woman. In these past 5 weeks I kept beating myself up week after week seeing my placement, but the reality of the situation is that I didn’t work hard enough. In conclusion to the 2016 Open I had a blast, but I know I was only scratching the surface.

Tylinn Rashan: I learned what a difference having a positive, supportive, and competitive environment makes! I have really enjoyed training and have improved so much as an athlete since joining Albuquerque CrossFit. This was reflected in the Open and I had my best Open finish!

AJ Bales: You’re not going to get the results you didn’t earn in the off season. At the end of the day, the open and CrossFit isn’t my life, and it shouldn’t be. It’s just exercise.

Matt Booth: 1) Honor and Integrity- A dangerous precedent is being set by a number of “Elite” CrossFit athletes and gyms; their focus has shifted to chasing top scores no matter the cost. Honor and integrity are now in danger of evaporating from the sport. I challenge us all to be revolutionaries and to always keep these two tenets at the forefront of our training. May our character never be questioned or in jeopardy for the sake of winning. 2) Perspective- Training is a journey. Let us not lose perspective due to one poor performance or day of training. Be in love with the process and take something positive from each day. 3) Focus- We have a finite number of days and breaths; may we not waste any on things beyond our control. Let us remain focused on improving ourselves and enriching the lives of those around us. Have fun and enjoy the amazing abilities we have been given.

We are excited that four of our athletes are moving on to the next stage – Three will be going to the 2016 South Regionals and Jo Marley will be moving on to the Master’s Qualifier. Read about Jo Marley’s “My Road to the CrossFit Games” (2015) HERE.

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