My Experience at the 2011 CrossFit Games

Lucas Parker going for a Max Snatch at the CrossFit Games

~ Photo Courtesy of

The word, “awesome” is thrown around a lot these days (“this pizza is awesome, bro,” or, “what an awesome new belt, guuurl!”). So, it is with great care that I choose to describe what transpired up to the end of July as truly awesome.

For I was indeed in awe: I was in awe of the athletic calibre, and quality of character, displayed by the competitors; in awe of the explosive growth and global presence of The Games (masses of spectators at the HDC evoked images of a pilgrimage to Mecca, except instead of traditional Muslim robes and caps, the crowds were clothed in board shorts and sported tribal tattoos); I was also in awe of the love and support I received from my family, the Zone crew that made the trip, all the friends and Zoners cheering me on from home, and the random CrossFitters that cheered me on (There are a couple “Teen Wolf” autographs out there now).

I’ll try to summarize my experience by describing a few key moments, in a somewhat chronological fashion. Try as I might to cling to crystal-clear memories of the competition, this was a very long few days, and things are starting to blur together.

Tuesday afternoon was the first official event on the itinerary. We met at the host hotel to receive our competitor uniforms. Since the uniform requirement was announced months ago, I have been a staunch critic of the idea. Having said that, the gear turned out to be fairly high quality and was comfortable enough. There was just too much… six pairs of board shorts?? Zoners, look forward to some prizes at the next Zone Games.

The competitor dinner that night was enjoyable. Everyone passed around a microphone and we all introduced ourselves. There was some humour, some teasing, there were some relaxed, seasoned vets, and some nervous, quaking newbies. Rob Orlando stood up and said something that really resonated with me: as an older competitor, he has a fair amount of competitive experience and has watched CF grow from the inside; “to the younger guys… soak it in.”

I had no idea that I would be doing exactly that, in the most literal way possible; Dave Castro then announced that the next day we would all participate in a swim verification test.

Then nothing interesting happened. The test went swimmingly.

The next 48 hours were spent postulating on pool possibilities and probabilities. Will this event be a washout? Was it just a red herring?

Thursday night: Dave Castro announces the first event. 200m swim. 1500m run. 50 CTB pull-ups. 100 hand-release pushups. 200 squats. 1500m run. The swim is in the ocean. The run is in soft sand. This will take place at Santa Monica Pier at 7:00 am. Welcome to the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games.

From this point on, the weekend was a blur. Friday was possibly the longest day of my life; I woke up at 4:00 to be on the bus at 5:15 a.m. My last event wrapped up around 9:00 p.m. Saturday was much more leisurely, with a 7:00 a.m. roll call.

Friday morning was the most interesting part of the trip. The emotions and energy were very dynamic. In the days preceding, there had been a fair amount of peacocking; fellas walking around with their chests thrown out and their lats puffed up. Lots of bravado and cocksure conversation. On the bus at 5:30 a.m. was a different picture. Silence. Furrowed eyebrows. Grown men in fear. We were all coming to the sobering realization that this was not some cruel mind game; we were indeed about to be thrown in the deep end.

A couple hours later, after the first event, the mood had reversed. The final reserves of our nervous energy sizzled into space in the form of high-pitched giggles, gaping yawns, and recovery modalities. I made Chris Spealler laugh. The standoffish, individualistic attitude that had permeated the group over the past few days was gone. We were now competing with each other, rather than against each other.

At the same time, there was still a sombre note in the air. Rob Orlando, a mainstay in both competitive and community circles, hadn’t made the swim – he had to be rescued by a lifeguard. Also, rumours circulated about CrossFit all-star Mikko Salo – supposedly he had been tagged by a stingray. The final word seems to be that someone had kicked him in the head during the surf entry. Either way, two of the possible champions were out of the weekend before most spectators had even blinked. For the competitors, this blew things wide open. Anything could and would happen. It was on.

I spent the rest of the day moving between the athlete area (a giant concrete basement under the stadium), the track (dusty, dirty, hot and sweaty), my hotel (for a dip in the pool and a much needed nap), and the arena (under the lights, in front of the crowd). The energy was incredible in the arena for the rope climb / clean and jerk event. A truly surreal experience that defies description. I managed to pause for an instant before I picked up the first barbell, thinking, “holy moly. I’m at the CrossFit games. And I’m not watching it, I’m….”

From that point on, I tried to compete as best I could. I definitely did a few things well; I warmed up extensively, forced myself to eat, stayed calm (mostly). I also made a number of errors, a couple of which ruined my chances of advancing beyond the second cut. One of those errors was dismissing the advice of my “coach,” or rather, babysitter, Lindsay Fembot McCardle before the 6th event.

Without her by my side, I probably wouldn’t have made it to the bus on Friday morning, let alone get into the ocean with a reasonable chance of getting out. She has been instrumental in the months, days, and minutes leading up to and including my time in California. I’m not sure how I’ll repay her, but I owe her big time.

This experience gave me great confidence for next year. I think I might get a tattoo of the quote, “It’s better to aim for excellence and fall short, rather than aim for mediocrity and hit your mark.” I remember sitting in Deanna’s office a couple months ago, describing my plan for conquering CrossFit: “this year, I’ll probably sit somewhere in the middle of the pack, around 25th. Next year I want to be able to make the final cut, be in the top 10 plus or minus a couple spots. In 2013 I should be able to make the top 5 and earn a re-qualification for the next year – that’s when I’ll win it – 2014.” Based on how I’ve been consistently doing what I say I will, I suppose I should watch what I say.

In closing, I want to thank you all for the overwhelming love and support that has been truly uplifting in my training and competing leading up to the end of my season. To say much more feels cheesy, so just come give me a big hug next time I see you.

Also, you may see me sporting some flashy new Reebok gear in the gym. Please resist the urge to jump on the bandwagon and blow all your money on the newest elite apparel. Clothes won’t help your performance, and CrossFit isn’t about style. I have nothing against Reebok and I am thankful for how they are helping CrossFit grow. However, I think it is important to support local businesses and put money into smaller CrossFit companies, instead of throwing money at a giant corporation.

By Lucas Parker (A.K.A – Scoots, Teen Wolf)

Today’s Workout

Buy-in: 3 rounds (not for time) of – 50 skips, 10 pvc overhead squats, 10 double crunch, 200m run

  • this will get your system running for the wod!

WOD:  “Helen”

Helen is one of THE original workouts.  Simple in design but wonderfully destructive in practice.  It’s good to get a time for Helen because there are thousands of times out there to compare to.  To keep it true to it’s origins, we’re going to do the workout without the “snatch” technique of kettlebell swings – which speeds the movement up considerably – so keep those kbs legit!

For Time:  3 rounds of –

  • 400m run
  • 21 kettlebell swings (35/55 – NO SNATCH SWINGS!)
  • 12 pullups

Zone 2 – assisted pullups, scale kbs to 20/35

Zone 1 – scale as needed

Cash-Out: Handstand practice – with a spotter, try kicking up against the wall then trying to balance using only your hands for adjustment


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