After seeing copious other partner teams assemble over the last twelve months I thought it was time for me to do the same. The first person who came to mind was Sam Turner. Not only is he a phenomenal athlete, his strengths are my weaknesses and we complement each other well in movements. Luckily for me, he agreed to join forces and our first competition was to be The Glacier Games – The Ice Age.
The Glacier Games Qualifiers
After Dead Karen, a one rep max snatch complex and a disgusting 12-minute workout we had completed the qualifiers. We only completed each qualifier workout once and were happy enough with our score in them. I felt that we had done enough to be in the top heat. As I have said in previous blog posts, ensuring you are in the top heat is critical if you’re wanting to push for a top position against the best. By working together and putting an effective strategy into place we managed to qualify in seventh place and were happy with that after seeing a very competitive field. We knew that maintaining our seventh position at the end of the competition would be very difficult.
The next thing to do was select a team name. This was more difficult than is sounds. We went through quite a few but wanted an original name. We both love a good Instagram post and so Sam came up with the perfect name to reflect our social media activity – Team Hashtags & Selfies.
The Glacier Games Competition
Sam was sent home from work with a virus on the Tuesday and couldn’t return for the rest of the week. Thankfully, he was feeling more like himself on Saturday when we set off to Newcastle for an overnight stay. There is nothing worse than a long morning drive to a competition. Staying over ensures you keep a natural sleep pattern and don’t have to wake up too early. Plus Newcastle is a great place to go and explore. We had a lovely mandate to the Christmas Market and even managed to do some Christmas shopping.
This is the first competition where I haven’t known the workouts before arriving at the competition. I didn’t know what to make of this, to begin with, but in the end decided it was an advantage for myself and Sam. We are confident in our abilities and between us can attack any workout in a partner format. We train at the same time and gym each night and could have practiced the workouts, but a lot of the other teams could have practiced too. This may have put us at a disadvantage.
Workouts one and two were completed at the same time and it was luck of the draw whether you did workout one or two first. Workout one was a one rep max complex, followed by a four-minute deadlift and hang squat clean AMRAP. Workout two was a gruelling 10 minute AMRAP relay.
After doing a ‘light session’ on Friday, my calves were super tight. I took part in the CrossFit Leeds class workout which involved 60 box jumps. This was not a good idea. Luckily for me, Parvin from Activ-7 was at The Glacier Games. He was on hand to give me a quick massage to get my calves feeling better. He used their own Activ-7 Recovery Oil to reduce post workout soreness by encouraging blood flow through my calves. I’ve been using Activ-7 for a couple of months now since Activ-7 hooked me up at The Rainhill Trials. It’s great. So for me if Activ-7 are at an event and I’m feeling any soreness it’s a no-brainer to go and see them to get advice and a quick fix if required. The trick I find with Activ-7 is to not just use it once but use it constantly to keep the recovery progressing. For me, at Glacier Games, this was before all workouts and just before going to bed. This definitely helped.
Workout 2 (5th place)
10-minute time cap
21-15-9 relay style
- Rowing (calories)
- Burpee box jump overs
- Wall balls
I got us off to a fast start on this workout with the row, but boy did I regret pulling 2200+ for 21 calories. The 21 burpee box jump overs were so difficult to transition into with jelly legs. I was looking forward to the burpees, as this is where I usually catch people up in workouts. However, not this time. I felt slower than normal on this set and struggled to get into a rhythm. I cracked on and got onto the wall balls, which were to a higher than normal 12ft target. These seemed easy compared to the burpee box jump overs and before I knew it I was running back and tagging Sam to start his set of 21s. Until I stopped I hadn’t realised how much that first round had taken out of me. I fell to the floor for around 30 seconds before gathering myself and cheering Sam on through his row. Before I knew it Sam was tagging me to start the set of 15s. Again I attached the row to ensure I left enough time for Sam to have a good crack at the set of 15s. This time the burpees were even worse. My legs had forgotten how to jump and my quads were so painful. I didn’t want to pick up the wall ball. I did and managed to miscount my reps and finish on 14 (not 15). This was frustrating and in a dazed panic I did the last one and ran as fast as I could to tag Sam. Sam attacked the 15s and managed 7 wall balls on the set of 15. This was enough for a fifth place finish.
I couldn’t quite believe it. No leaderboard all day. At the previous Glacier Games competitions, I had spectated at, they had a whiteboard, which was updated after every workout. However, this time no update came. The guys at Glacier Games did an initial leaderboard, but it was wrong and so they decided to redo it and by that point, they felt there was no need to reveal standings. This changed everything for Team Hashtags & Selfies. We had to now go after every workout to ensure we had a chance of a podium spot. We knew that we had finished fourth in our heat, but didn’t take note of how far into the workout previous heats before us had got. We forgot about the leaderboard and were happy with our performance, but it had drained us. I hadn’t seen Sam in that state before. He was peeling himself off the ground on the burpees and had a 30-minute word with himself outside post workout to come back around. We both recovered and were ready for the next workout.
Workout 1A (5th)
6-minute time cap
- Complex: 1 x Snatch + 2 x OHS
Each athlete has 3 lifts that contribute to a 6 lift total. If you miss that lift will be counted as 0kg lifted
We played it safe in this. This was definitely a combination of fear of failure and both feeling the pain from workout two which (unluckily) we completed before this. Workout two was such a gassy workout and we both experienced what some CrossFitters refer to as a ‘FRAN’ cough. This is where you start wheezing and get a sore throat from a workout. We both opted to power snatch on this workout. Mainly because this is a safer option and our legs were like jelly from workout two. My power snatch PB is pretty close to my full snatch and so this wasn’t going to affect our score too much. The fear of failure was the biggest thing on our minds affecting the decision to go for a power snatch. A miss would mean a 0kg contribution to your score and an assured last place in this event.
Thankfully we managed an average of 90kg throughout all 6 lifts and this was enough to get us fifth place. We went every two minutes but sped up the two lifts to allow time to change the plates ahead of workout 1B.
Workout 1B (3rd)
4 minute AMRAP
- 1 deadlift, 1 hang squat clean, 2 deadlifts, 2 hang squat cleans, 3 deadlifts, 3 hang squat cleans, etc
These could be broken up as you wished.
As the fastest mover between the two of us, I went first on this workout and completed rounds 1, 2 and 3. We had planned for me to do rounds 1 and 2, but these felt easy so I managed to get another one in before handing over to Sam. From this point onwards we did a round each until the end of the four minutes. This got tricky from the ninth round, but we dug deep and managed to keep moving. The deadlifts were easy, but our legs were fried for the hang squat cleans. Our performance got us a third place finish, our best of the day! We didn’t even think about this workout, we just did it. Maybe that’s the reason we performed so well?
Workout 3A (7th)
2 rounds for time (9-minute time cap):
- 10-meter barbell lunges (60kg)
- 30 back squats (80kg)
- 10-meter barbell lunges (60kg)
- 20 synchronised burpees over the barbell
There was a four-hour wait between workouts and so this workout was psychologically challenging. It was hard to get in the right frame of mind after switching off for so long. When the time came to warm up I felt stiff and the lactic acid had started to set in. After copious amounts of pre-workout and warming up our lunges and back squats, we were ready to go. I wasn’t feeling great, but I started us off with the lunges. We didn’t have a clue where we were on the leaderboard and so we tried attacking 3A. We had positioned ourselves next to the two best teams in qualifying and so we would try to keep up to these as much as possible. I managed to keep a decent pace through the lunges before Sam started the back squats.
We broke these into sets of 10 and then the same person lunged back. Team Little and Large next to us went 20 unbroken back squats before swapping, which only made us more pumped to try and catch them with our strategy. After lunging back we started the first set of synchro burpees over the bar. As you’d expect Sam set the pace and I tried to keep up for the first five until I settled into a rhythm after the lunges. Sam did the lunges on the second round and I waited ready for the back squats at the rig and did my set of 10 followed by a set of 12 before Sam lunged back. By this point, we were both dead, but I managed to get into an early rhythm and drag Sam through the last 20 synchro burpees. We finished but knew pain was to follow on the next part of workout three.
Workout 3B (10th)
3-minute time cap
- Max output rope climbs (12 ft)
We had finished workout 3A with just under three minutes to spare before workout 3B started on nine minutes. This time flew by and before we knew it we were chalking up ready to rope climb next to the two best teams at the competition; Little and Large and Gan Tits. We started the rope climbs and were both rusty to begin with. Like most teams, we took a while to get into a rhythm as the rope was swinging all over. The rope climbs were in the middle of the rig and if you approached the rope climbs side on you would hit the rig with your feet on the catch. I think at one point Sam pushed up off of one of the pull-up bars. By two minutes we were like robots going up and down a rope.
However, this was too late to make a push for a top position on the workout. In hindsight, we should have practiced on the ropes more during the break. Only one rope climb separated fifth to tenth place and so the margins for success were tiny. Every rope climb mattered. This was our worst result of the day and we expected ourselves to be good at this workout. We knew it was a bad result but didn’t know how bad. I definitely thought we had blown our chances of a podium finish.
I didn’t think we had done enough to podium and so I packed up and was ready to leave, but stayed to see who had won. Was it Gan Tits or Little and Large? Both teams were going backwards and forward winning workouts all day. With still no leaderboard insight no one could workout who’d won. Gan Tits were the hometown favourites with the freak that is Liam Holborn. However, Little and Large had Sam Parkin who is one of the most talked about up and coming athletes ahead of the CrossFit Games Open. After announcing the teens and master’s results, it was time for the female results. Sian Jones and Sarah Campbell from Form Leeds were taking part in the competition and so I was hoping that they would make the podium. Sarah’s chest infection clearly was still too bad, but they managed seventh place. Then finally it was time for the men’s RX announcement. The PA sound system in the venue wasn’t great and I could hardly hear a thing. I knew we were only battling for third as the other teams were just too strong. The organisers announced third place and I’m sure they didn’t say Team Hashtags and Selfies. Maybe it was the strong Geordie accent or maybe I’m going deaf but Sam started walking towards the podium. I couldn’t believe it, after around five seconds of being stunned I worked out with Sam walking towards the podium meant we were third. I put my bags down and ran towards the middle of the arena. What a feeling.
“We had done it, third place!”
Finally, I had done it. A podium at a good level competition. Sam couldn’t believe it either, we just looked at each other and couldn’t stop smiling and laughing. Next, came the announcement of second place. It was Little and Large. Gan Tits with Liam Holborn and Stef Lig only dropped three points all day finishing the day with eight points and first place. I was happy to share the podium with such impressive athletes.
Overall the competition had a great atmosphere. The DJ was on point and so were the northern crowd. It would have been nice to have a leaderboard, but with this element missing I think the competition was more fun. It meant we had to perform on every workout and take risks. We attempted to do more reps than usual unbroken to try and get a better score or time. We both pushed ourselves and learnt a lot about our capacity levels. The leaderboard was published on The Glacier Games web page the day after the event. We had accumulated 30 points, with fourth place having 32, so it was a close battle for third place.
The venue was packed with no seating, no food vendors and no drinks vendors inside the arena. Maybe I’m being picky from attending a lot of CrossFit events recently, but this meant you had to walk over to the sports center’s cafe to grab food and drink. This would have been fine had there not been another event on, which made this facility very busy. The wait between workouts was also long at times. This was mainly due to a teen and masters competition running in the same competition. I hate it when competitions do this. Why not give them their own competition? Give them the credit they deserve instead of making a competition longer for no reason. Don’t get me wrong, I love to watch master’s athletes hyperventilate. I often think to myself “I hope I’m that fit at that age”, but hate these events being tied in with RX ones.
I would recommend this event to any same-sex pair who want to test themselves against top quality athletes from across the north. From looking at the leaderboard (when it was eventually posted to Facebook) all of the male teams were northern, but that isn’t a bad thing. Some of the best UK athletes competed at this event. The organisers were great and got the crowd pumped all day for each and every heat in each and every workout. It’s not often you see this. I enjoyed the event so much, I have already signed up for The Glacier Games next instalment, The Thaw. This is a mixed sex pairs competition where the barbell machine Tara Watkins will be teaming up with me in what is set to be another great weekend in Newcastle.