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No Burpees at Least

Grinding through 15.5, thrusters and all


The 15.5 workout was not my favorite, but compared to 14.5, it wasn’t bad at all.

Thrusters are a terrible movement for me (also for thousands of other CrossFit athletes) and will never be something that I do with any kind of speed. Last year, the combo of burpees and thrusters almost did me in. There has never been another workout that has had me more close to not finishing than 14.5. If it wasn’t for the four people around me cheering me on and convincing me to hit the ground and crawl forward to do burpee after burpee, I’m not sure I could have finished it.

While I’m not a great rower, rowing doesn’t bother me. The couplet wasn’t overwhelming: 27-21-15-9 row for calories and thrusters (95/65 pounds) for time. But as I watched three of the fittest women on earth tackle this combo unbroken, I wasn’t really enthusiastic about the thought of having to do this over the weekend.

I’m sure a lot of affiliates probably realized an issue would arise in terms of the people who needed to do the workout compared with how many rowers were available at any given affiliate location. For us, we have about 20 members on average per class and eight rowers. There was no way to partner up with someone else because the thrusters were always going to be faster than the time it took to complete the calories rowed. The only solution for us was to have heats go while everyone else waited and watched, calculated their own strategies and tried to stay warmed up until they got a turn.

I went in at 5 a.m. and watched group after group go, helped count reps, and made sure everyone kept moving and was set up when it was their time to go.

Normally, for any Open workout, I would never hurry in the next morning after an announcement and blindly jump into a workout. I am always one to read articles and watch the coaching suggestions on videos in order to make my experience go as smoothly as possible. I understand most people do those things to try to maximize their score and results; I just want to survive as painlessly as possible.

There was something about this one (maybe it was my 14.5 experience) that just kept gnawing at me and told me that I had to get it out of the way. I was heading out of town that afternoon, and I didn’t want to do it on Saturday with one of our big classes in there. Sunday, we had family in town from Chicago, and Monday, I had to coach soccer. So I was presented with no smart option and decided to jump in.

After the 5:45 a.m. class finished, I loosened up and went in with our 6:15 a.m. class (two other people that day). The first row was all about pacing. I just wanted to see the numbers tick upward until they got to 27. For thrusters, I devised a 6, 6, 6, 5, 4 rep scheme, which I stuck to. I rowed 21 more slow and steady calories and then did reps of 6, 6, 5, 4 thrusters. The 15-calorie row was as brutal as advertised, but I sucked it up and then hammered through 5, 5, 5 thrusters as I started to feel like there was hope. I didn’t have much left in the tank for the 9-calorie row, but I just grabbed the bar and pumped out nine unbroken thrusters (more out of sheer willpower than anything) and then collapsed into a heap.

Later, I found out that I completed the prescribed work in 15 minutes and 12 seconds — not a good time at all, but I was done. I completed the 2015 CrossFit Games Open in the 40-44 Masters division, and I have a good chance of ending up in the top 25 to 30 percent for the North Central and Worldwide divisions — not bad for an old grinder.

How did 15.5 go for you? Were you able to put aside your mental hang-ups and go to a place of pain in order to get through it?

Stay on the Grind.