A Lot of Moxie, A Bit of Madness: A Newbie's Perspective on Competing

The following is from our awesome UBite, Ashley S, who took on her first competition this past weekend at Moxie Madness.  For any of you considering competing - check out her thoughts on the experience!  Thanks Ashley for sharing with the rest of us!

A few months ago when Olivia was still doing her Sunday inspiration posts, she put out a couple challenges that resonated with me: take yourself just a little more seriously, and put your training to the test by competing. In May, I started putting out word (more like a quiet whisper) that I maybe, sort of, possibly *might* be interested in competing. Chris Comma happened to be putting together a team of Master's athletes for some competition in San Jose. I said yes and then looked at the website to see what I'd gotten myself into - probably better I did it in that order.

Cut to last weekend when myself and seven other UBers found ourselves baking under the hot, hot San Jose sun at Moxie Madness, a two-day, six-event competition that drew a whopping 150 teams from all over Northern California. Crossfit Games athletes Chyna Cho and Neal Maddox even threw down (and used all the weights, of course - because they *really* lift). The mere mortals from UB included Rich Stone, George Whetstone, Hayley Beauchamp, and Jo Gail who made up Team United Barbies (my name for them - sorry, peeps), and UB had its first-ever Master's team, UB168, that included myself, Yael Citro, Chris Comma, and Aaron Read.

Day One put us through sandbag thrusters and kettlebell swings, front squats, shoulder-to-overhead, beaucoup deadlifts and box jumps, and a 400 meter swim relay - quite refreshing after all day in the sun! (My quads still wanted to jump off my legs and run away though.) Day Two featured a 20-minute endurance WOD with sandbags, assault bikes (Airdyne's sleeker cousin), and rowing; more heavy lifting (HPCs and bench presses) with a nasty chipper tacked on involving 200 wall balls, 150 snatches, and 100 toes-to-bar. The last WOD of the weekend for our team was a surprisingly brutal double 8-minute AMRAP ladder involving kettlebell snatches and over-your-partner burpees. One of the volunteers summed it up nicely when they told a fellow newbie that they were pretty brave if Moxie Madness was their first comp. โ€œIt's a big one.โ€ Understatement.

I can go on at length about the weekend - how Chris Comma is the Mayor of Crossfit, how George is Drago, or how I went shoe shopping with Trent - but Jenny has asked that I keep this to under 3,000 words (tl;dr). So, here are three things I learned during my very first team competition:

  • If there is any kind of lift during which people are going for different weights, have a plan. More importantly, do the math. Know what each team member is going to lift and have the heavier lifters go first. Know how many attempts each person will need and what amount they will go up, and know what plates will be available. Also, practice your transitions. Think of your team as a NASCAR pit crew - everyone has a role and everyone moves fast. You will lose precious seconds if you don't get this down beforehand.
  • Forget the competition for a minute and appreciate all those small, subtle victories. Yael was pretty sure she didn't know what a snatch was before we were confronted with a WOD that included 150 of them, but after a crash refresher course with Trent, she stepped up and knocked out sets of five. Aaron had joined our team only two weeks before the event but he was a machine, braving sandbags that tried to suffocate him and going for the big weight plates on lifts. Our team came in 10th overall for an event that involved sandbags thrusters - a fun little activity that most of us had tried for the first time just two days before the competition.
  • Be inspired. We watched Rich, George, Jo, and Hayley kill their last WOD of the event - the endurance WOD, no less - with smiles on their faces (although, in all fairness, those may have been winces of pain). Their judge even told them they had the best score she'd seen all day on the assault bike. Hot stuff! On the less victorious side of the spectrum, when I got no-repped on my first attempt at a 3RM hang clean and then the weight slipped from my hands on my second attempt, I heard someone cheering me on and it was the single thing in that moment that made me pick the weight back up and move on. I'd never really appreciated how much showing support could mean during a competition because I'd always been a spectator, but after that you better believe I'll be cheering my ass off for anyone competing.

To summarize, competing is fun, y'all, and it doesn't have to be super hardcore. Fall happens to be competition season, too, so there are puh-lenty of opportunities to put your training to the test. If you're interested in competing, or even just curious, check out the United Barbell Competitors Group on Facebook.