This was my first time attending the Games in person. I've watched since Khalipa won in the sand at the Ranch, but going to Carson and seeing it all in real time was special.
Spending the entire week at the Games was a phenomenal experience. From the outset I determined to let everything wash over me, to slow down and let people and events happen in real time. I didn’t want to get caught up in anticipation, scheduling, taking photos and attempting to do it all.
My friends from CrossFit Green Bay were competing. I knew I’d be at each of their events - my first priority. The Masters competition held interest for me. Just what were these men and women like, athletes in my age group, at this level? Would I find answers to the questions I ask myself?
Nearly a week after returning home, the grip of the CrossFit community remains strong. The 2014 CrossFit Games even tops my 2004 Tour of Georgia bike racing fantasy week. At the time I thought that was a life-changer. The Games didn’t change my life, but a hell of a lot of reinforcement took place. My thoughts at this time:
I’m not nearly as low on bodyfat as I fancied myself. The elite (read: professional) and Masters athletes are day-to-day lean.
I don’t run enough. I’d begun to recognize this a couple of weeks ago, finding my cardio fitness (or lack of it) holding me back in workouts. Clearly Grant Soletski, coach of CrossFit Green Bay, shares my feelings, as a ton of running appeared in his programming this week. I think this week I’ve run as much as the previous month or six weeks. In other words, strength alone isn’t sufficient. Even at my age I want the whole package.
CrossFit athletes, in the throes of competition, under intense physical and mental stress, smile and pose for pictures and sign autographs and freely talk with fans. Every one. Each day.
After years of watching the Games on TV and live-stream, where most of the time only the front-runners are being shown, I’ve new appreciation for everyone in the field. The draining accumulation of fatigue is evident in person; the men and women bringing up the rear in each event are working to the fullest of their capabilities. In some cases they are red-lining much longer than their early finishers.
Everybody is a great athlete at this level. Nobody is as big as many fans think they are. Rich Froning is about 190#. Jason Khalipa is 215#. Plenty of these guys are in the 180-185# range, tops. The women are compact, lean, muscular, and move easily.
Watching the beach event, only a few feet from the finish line, body styles become apparent. Lots of squatting going on with these athletes; big glutes and hamstrings everywhere. Small waists. Big thick backs. Tight physiques throughout the field. Aerobic capacity to burn.
The CrossFit audience eats a hell of a lot of food. Vendors at the Games were amazing; plenty of grass-fed meat and interesting dishes. Sweet potatoes, salads, kale/quinoa, bacon. Great coffee. There was no excuse not to eat in an ideal manner. For the week I didn’t workout at all, only going for one run on the beach. I drank wine at night. Ate all I wanted. Lost bodyfat to the tune of one notch on my belt.
Kelly Starrett is as smart, engaging and personable as I wanted him to be. We talked about restaurants, movement for older athletes, his experience on the Joe Rogan Podcast, and his upcoming books. Contrary to how it looks, I wasn't lecturing Starrett! It seems I just wave my hands and arms a lot; I become animated talking with guys like Kelly Starrett. @MobilityWOD
Kendrick Farris has a personality and smile I’d want to be around any time. And a great sense of humor. I'm waiting for Farris to put on a clinic in the Midwest. If you don't follow him on Instagram and Twitter, shame on you. He's one of the finest American weightlifters of all time. @KendrickJFarris
Dmitry Klokov isn’t the physical monster in person I anticipated. He’s big as hell, don’t get me wrong (6’ 230#), but like most elite athletes, he’s lean and compact. His English is better than he puts on, and he has a developed sense of humor. If you're reading this you must know he's unbelievable strong, and is loving helping introduce Olympic Weightlifting to the CrossFit world. Where you really want to follow Dmitry is on his YouTube channel. youtube.com/user/44252005 His Twitter feed is fun as well: @klokovd And don't forget Instagram, he's all over it.
The Wodcast Podcast crew are lively and fun. No wonder people enjoy guesting on their show; everyone is laughing all the time. They broadcast from the Vendor Village and had a constant stream of guests. I think they snagged athletes as they walked by! I saw Mark Bell, Sam Dancer, and Kevin Ogar in their booth at various times. On their episode from the Games they also have John Welbourn, Jesse Burdick, Katie Hogan, Lindsey Valenzuela and Christmas Abbott. My chat with Eddie Ifft and Armen Hammer was fun; I wasn't able to get to Scott McGee. Check this podcast out. http://www.wodcastpodcast.com/episodes/ Follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, but most important: listen! @wodcastpodcast
Samantha Briggs was a joy to talk with. What a positive personality. What a lean, muscular physique! Lindsey Valenzuela was around, gave a presentation I attended. I got the feeling she wasn’t happy I asked her whether she was still going forward with her NPFL team, but I’ll assume it’s because she was in the Reebok tent. Valenzuela was forthright and impressive in her answers to people’s questions. I was impressed with how she carried herself.
My greatest disappointment of the Games was not finding the Barbell Shrugged podcast group on Friday. I kept hearing of sightings, but didn’t locate them. My plan is to convince them I should be their first “unknown” guest. I’m now shooting for the 2015 Arnold Classic. @barbellshrugged These guys are active on Instagram as well, so get on there.
Shopping in Vendor Village was engaging. Lots of new companies with clothing, in addition to the regulars from the CrossFit world. Supplement samples everywhere; energy and recovery drinks galore. Bulletproof Coffee had a booth, I was happy to see. Dave Asprey was not in attendance, as far as I know, but his staff on hand were friendly and knowledgeable.
Progenex had a massive presence. The Reebok tent was big enough to hold a concert in. I’ll detail some of the supplement companies in detail when I talk about their products. My King Kong backpack was full at the end of each day, jammed with supplements.
People-watching. World-class. Hot sunny weather, constant sun, and thousands of fit people who enjoy wearing very little clothing.
The days of intense competition are terribly hard on the athletes. I’m beyond impressed with them. Never have I been around a massive event run so well, on time all the time. Hundreds of volunteers worked smoothly at all times.
Dave Castro runs a tight ship, impressively. The DJ who interrupted him during the Finals, encouraging the crowd to do “the wave”, likely won’t be working for CrossFit again. I saw my share of judging snafus, but I’m sure the powers at the top of the CrossFit game are well aware of them.
If Rich Froning really does retire, as he threatens to do, he goes out from a strong position. He took the Games between his teeth this year and dominated, after a shaky running event where he bonked hard. What a fierce competitor. If he retires from solo competition, I predict he returns within one or two years!
I believe a generational shift began to take place this year at the upper end of the standings, as young competitors shone and some veterans fell off badly. The old guard is falling; new stars were born during these Games - Matt Fraser, Noah Ohlsen, Will Moorad, Cody Anderson, Lauren Fisher, for example. It's all fun to watch. @crossfitgames,