Few movements can inspire as much dread as the burpee.
Dread, nervousness, and every possible variation of those feelings were definitely among the many emotions permeating the Lombardi Recreation Center on Friday night, as the University of Nevada, Reno CrossFit team prepared for the first workout of the 2012 CrossFit Games Open: seven minutes of burpees.
“I didn’t sleep at all last night,” said first-timer Michael Aglietti, a 21-year-old with a bachelor’s degree in math. “I had an upset stomach all week.”
At UNR CrossFit, Aglietti is rarely seen without his friend Jeff Fiddler, a 25-year-old alumnus who got his degree in computer engineering. Though also new to the CrossFit Games, Fiddler is experienced with relays and marathons, and is all too familiar with pre-game jitters.
“I’m scared, but I feel really great too,” he said mid-stretch.
Jose Gutierrez, another newcomer, wasn’t nervous at first; the 37-year-old described himself as “calm” and “relaxed,” while doing his warm-up. Fifteen minutes later, however, the tension started getting to him. “I need some gum,” he said, while waiting in line to put his name on the white board. “I’m nervous.”
Such was the size of the group in this event, it was determined the athletes should be split up into six heats. Eager to get the ordeal out of the way, Aglietti and Fiddler went in the first heat. They insisted on facing each other when they picked their spots in the pull-up rack, which was being used to give the athletes the necessary target when they leapt out of their burpees.
“It’s a motivation tool,” said Aglietti. “If I keep in front of him, it’s a competitive factor driving me. I’ve got to catch him.”
Aglietti and Fiddler where floored when their seven minutes were up, having recorded 114 and 103 reps, respectively.
“My goal was 120, but I’m not disappointed,” said Aglietta between gasps. “I worked my ass off.”
“Relieving” was the word Fiddler used to describe topping his goal of 100. “I didn’t think I was going to make it,” he said.
Two heats later, it was Gutierrez’s turn to make his mark in the first round of the open. As the final minute ticked away, Gutierrez was desperation in motion. He cranked out as many burpees as he possibly could before collapsing in a spectacular, yet triumphant heap on the rubber floor.
Gutierrez, who aimed for 100, was proud of his 101 reps.
“I’m really tired, but happy because I did one more than my goal,” he said. “I went as fast as I could on my last 10. I kept telling myself, ‘One more.’”
With four more weeks left in the 2012 CrossFit Games Open, Aglietti, Fiddler, and Gutierrez, not to mention the thousands of registered athletes, veteran and newcomer alike, definitely have their work cut out for them.