March 27, 2012
Caught on Camera: Aaron Carr
By Aaron Carr
Aaron Carr's lessons learned in the Open.
Aaron Carr's lessons learned in the Open.

When you compare my 12.5 performance with 11.6, you can say I'm 9 percent more fit this year. 


Surprise and Wonder

“Oh how funny, the person posting the workouts accidentally posted the last workout from last year’s Open … no … wait a second … that’s intentional. Whoa! How did I do last year?”

To say the least, I was very surprised when the last workout was announced. I have heard the arguments others made in opposition to the programming for the Open, but to me it comes down to a couple key thoughts.

At the end of the day, the very top contenders for the Games were decided within two to three workouts. The remainder of the workouts made some refinements to order and eliminated a couple of the specialists. In the top tier, though, there was not much movement.

Secondly, it is very valuable information to compare the performance from the last year, both for individuals and for the whole population. I can just imagine a couple statisticians back at HQ drooling over the data.

For me, it was a bit of an adventure. Thrusters are my personal Kryptonite, and it seems the more I do them, the less and less I like them.

Then we have the chest-to-bar pull-ups. I know the difference from a regular pull-up is really just about six inches in movement. But that six inches sure feels like a lot more after a few reps.

I know it sounds silly but this “dirty Fran” made me more nervous than any of the other workouts from the Open because I had done it before. I like to think that all my effort makes a difference that is tangible and discernable. What if last year was a fluke? I haven’t focused on pull-ups half as much this year as I have tried to follow the programming. Would that be to my benefit or detriment? My nerves were on edge.

Trying Something New

Throughout all the workouts this year and last, I have visited eight different affiliates. But with all the workouts in or out of the Open, I have never videoed my workout. This last workout for the Open turned out to be a great opportunity to try something new.  

With the help of my neighbor and fellow competitor Ammon Woods, I went to his garage and was able to perform the workout while he set up the video, judged, and provided valuable encouragement and coaching. By the way, I use competitor in a loose way meaning we are both participating in the same athletic endeavor or competition. Realistically, his skill and capacity far exceeds mine and I doubt whether I provide much real competition.

Anyway, I pressed, pulled, pushed and grunted. Seven minutes later I was collapsed on the ground … again. This time it took a few minutes before I felt well enough to walk back to my house next door and collapse into a chair, wheezing, sipping and gulping water.  

Watching Myself

Thirty minutes later, when I had finally caught my breath, I pulled up the link Ammon was nice enough to send me, and set out to judge my own movement.

Let me begin by saying that I do not demonstrate the stoic power that is seen in so many of the workout videos on the main site. You do not see a great demonstration of power that leaves you in awe. It involves me staring at the bar or the ground trying desperately to catch my breath and recover some strength to keep pushing through the movements. Wow, my kip is all over the place.

I find it hilarious to watch myself and think, “I rest for a long time,” but remember that at the time I was thinking I just need a few more moments to rest. I particularly remember that as I finished the round of 9 and was starting on the 12, the exact thought going through my mind was, “What am I doing and why am doing this? This feels horrible.”

Then as the last few moments ticked away I remembered, and you can see on the video, that I just kept thinking, “One more … keep pushing … one more.”

Lessons Learned

Unless HQ finds a reason to disqualify more than 900 men in the South West, my participation in the 2012 Crossfit Games Season as a competitor is at its end. So, after all is said and done with the 2012 Open competition, what are the key takeaways? What did I learn and how did it change me?

First and foremost, it was a lot of fun. I had the chance to meet some amazing competitors and some incredible people. I met people with a passion for CrossFit and a passion for life. I met people who are incredible competitors with unbelievable capacity and people who have overcome amazing obstacles and challenges.

Second, Reebok is not going to be knocking on my door asking to sponsor me as an athlete. And unless they include competitive spreadsheet modeling as one of the fundamental movements in CrossFit, I don’t expect to be invited to join the Rogue team. CrossFit allows me to enjoy life more fully because I have the physical capacity to enjoy the other sports I like participating in.

Third, I learned competition changes my perspective. Knowing the workout was coming and I would be publicly posting my performance forced me to focus my efforts and held me accountable. I improved my nutrition and increased the number of workouts per week. I gave more attention to some of my weaknesses and tried to improve my technique. At the end of the competition, I have lost 23 pounds since January 1st.

Fourth, CrossFit is a great environment to teach life lessons. Sometimes you scrape your shin to the bone and almost every part of you wants to quit, but you get up and keep going.  And you find out later your son was watching and you hope in the bottom of your heart he learned a little of the lesson that when life is hard and rough things happen, you don’t give up – you keep pushing.

Finally, it is incredible to watch human capacity being pushed. The elite competitors are fascinating and it is dumbfounding to see what they can do. They dedicate their lives to being amazing and they are. But it is equally incredible to watch people get a PR on the snatch. It is incredible to watch people as time is running out and they are completely spent and exhausted and yet they keep pushing because they want just one more rep. It is incredible to collapse onto the floor knowing that you gave it everything you have.


Now is the time for those who are far more elite than I am to compete in Regionals. I plan to try my hand at some of the workouts in the stadium of my backyard and see how I stack up. I will also be watching as they choose the crème de la crème for the Home Depot center.

When you compare my 12.5 performance with 11.6, you can say that I am 9 percent more fit this year than I was last year. Does anyone mind if I round up to 10 percent?