Training for the CrossFit Games – Jay's 2015 Year

Almost exactly one year ago today, I authored this post about Jay’s finish in the 2014 CrossFit Games Open.
We have seen tremendous progress since teaming up together – a 59th place finish in 2012, 50th in 2013, and then finally 30th in the world last year.
Not gonna lie, being 10 spots away from a trip to California to compete at the Games last year stung. A lot. But I cannot imagine how it felt to Jay himself.
A coach and athlete relationship, when working at or near the highest levels of sport, is incredibly complex and diverse. Understanding what makes your athlete tick, what stresses are they dealing with, has their schedule changed, what do they need to work on to get better, how do you not screw them up, what/how do you handle injuries or nagging pain, etc?
For the athlete, they have to not only be willing, but simply be able, to communicate all of that stuff.
In short, it takes an incredible amount of trust.
Trust on the part of the athlete that your coach knows what he/she is doing and that the program they are delivering is going to get you where you want to go.
The coach has to trust that the athlete is going to follow the program and provide necessary feedback.
Any hint of doubt on either persons behalf is a recipe for disaster.
Thankfully, Jay and I have gotten this down pretty well over 3 years now.

Enter 2015.

In WOD 1, we saw Jay took a 51st place finish. Then hit a 220lb clean and jerk in 15.1A
In WOD 2, he took 49th.
In WOD 3, he took 99th.
In WOD 4, 93rd.
And finally, WOD 5 was a 100th place finish.
Overall, he finished 75th in the Open. Not gonna lie, it wasn’t his best finish. To make the Master’s Qualifier, you need to be in the top-200.
So, his chances were still alive.
But you know what, I saw a different side of Jay this go around. Last year, he placed a tremendous amount of pressure on himself after finishing the Open so high. This year, he figured his chances were very slim that he could make up 55 places to crack the top-20.
This allowed him to go into each workout with a much calmer head and did exactly what we predicted he should do in every WOD.
Me? I thought he could make the jump.
In case you missed the Master’s Qualifier Workouts, here’s what he had to do over the span of 4 days:
1) 5min AMRAP – 5 muscle-ups, 10 power cleans @ 155lb (scored 8th in the world here!)
2) 1RM Snatch – he PR’d on this lift…twice. Finishing with 197lb.
3) 2RFT – 1k row, 50 thrusters @ 65lb, 30 C2B pull-ups
4) 21-15-9 Deadlift (225), Box Jump (24″), Hand-stand Push-Up
After we entered all his scores and validated them late Monday night, I literally spent the next 3 hours hitting refresh on my screen. He started off 6th in the world…but little by little, as more scores were posted, his name dropped a few spots each time I went back. By the time midnight rolled around, he was hanging out around 18th. When I awoke the next morning, all scores were entered. Moment of truth – he finished at 26th in the world…until…
A few days later I received an email at 5:06am with the following:

“I guess we need to hang the video of event 1 someplace like YouTube or Vimeo.”

That’s right – CrossFit HQ emailed him to get a video for the review process…meaning there was still a chance.
Almost 24 hours later, we learned that the video had been accepted!
We did our part. Now we had to wait almost a week to see where the final standings would have him. To put this in perspective, he’d need to jump 55 spots to make it…

May 7th – final standing – 24th overall.

To recap, 2012 he was 59th, 2013 he was 50th, 2014 he was 30th…2015 he was 24th.
Four spots away this year. FOUR.
Want to know what is even harder to swallow? If he had made a clean and jerk that was just THREE pounds more in 15.1A, we’d be ending this post on a much different note. He’d be going to the Games.
Three pounds gang, just three pounds.
That is the margin of error across all of those workouts. These are the types of things that I do as a coach – find the holes, the chinks in the armor, that we can address for the next training year.
The morning after the last qualifier WOD, before we knew officially that he wasn’t going, his first line of the first email for the 2016 season said this:

“Started off this training year…”

So, what keeps us coming back…wanting to continue pushing forward, striving for something more?

Three pounds.

Congratulations Jay. I look forward to another year in your corner. 2016, here we come.

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