June 1, 2012
No. 4 After a Heat Stroke: David Charbonneau
By Andréa Maria Cecil
Dude, did I finish the workout?
Dude, did I finish the workout?

Dude, did I finish the workout?


David Charbonneau doesn’t remember the final third of Day 2’s second workout at the North East Regional.

After finishing most of the medley of back squats, shoulder-to-overheads, front squats and overhead squats mixed with 3 sets of 40 pull-ups, the 26-year-old blacked out, he says.

“I got really dizzy,” Charbonneau says. “I couldn’t see straight.”

The next thing he remembers is coming to in the medic tent with an IV in his vein. One of his buddies was standing nearby.

“’Dude, did I finish the workout?’” he recalls asking his friend.

“I finished it, but I didn’t remember it,” says Charbonneau, who placed 4th in the workout.

It turned out he had a heat stroke.

“It was a hydration issue,” explains the 5-foot-10, 200-pound athlete. “In between events, it kinda sucks because there’s a lot of time … and there’s no way to really escape the heat.”

Although he typically drinks a gallon of water a day, he says he should have upped that to at least a gallon and a half on the hottest day of the three-day competition when the temperature neared 90 degrees and there was notable humidity.

Charbonneau mainly was eating nutrition bars and Paleo kits between workouts, he says, “which made my stomach kind of upset.”

To add insult to injury, the 120 pull-ups in Event 4 ripped up Charbonneau’s hands.

“I was feeling terrible,” he says.

Heading into the last day, he decided that if he didn’t perform well on the snatch ladder, he would withdraw for safety reasons.

“People (were) trying to pull me out. A couple of coaches and a couple of the event coordinators were talking to me,” Charbonneau says.

But after finishing the snatch ladder in 6th place and being at No. 3 overall, he still was in contention to qualify for the CrossFit Games with only one workout remaining.

“I had a lot of people come to support me. I didn’t want to let anybody down. I was still pretty close. If I didn’t give it a shot,” he explains, “I would have regretted it.”

On the weekend’s last workout, Spencer Hendel edged out Charbonneau to secure a podium spot.

“Losing to those guys, I don’t really have any shame,” he says of North East Games qualifiers Hendel, Austin Malleolo and Daniel Tyminski. “It was a great competition. I wish it had turned out a little better.”

Although Charbonneau finished 4th for a second year, he says this year was better than 2011.

“Last year, I was 20 points behind,” he says. “This year, it was a much closer finish to top three. So next year, hopefully, (there will be) a little bit more improvement … I’ll break into the top 3.”

Training partner and fellow CrossFit Long Island City trainer Ron Yellin, who also competed at the Regional, described the weekend as “bittersweet” for Charbonneau.

“He did things in the workouts that he never did in training,” he says. “I never saw him put his hands on his legs (in training). I knew he was hurting. He never stops.”

To ready themselves for 2013, Yellin says the two men will do more workouts in the heat.

“He wants it bad,” he says of Charbonneau. “I don’t think he’s settling on anything less. The competition’s stiff, but I’m pretty confident that he has what it takes to get there.”

Wednesday — three days after the Regional ended — was the first day back to training for both men.

Neither has a coach and instead follows the programming of California’s CrossFit Invictus and Virginia’s Outlaw CrossFit while adding their own elements.

“I’m just trying to work on the things that I’m a little weaker at,” Charbonneau says. “I struggled on hang cleans this year, so I’m going to focus on Olympic lifting. I want to get really strong.”