Coach Shannon's Fantastic Wodapalooza Performance

I was going to post a competition wrap up for Shannon today, so I asked her if she would be willing to share some thoughts on the day.  Instead, she sent me an excellent play by play write up that was too good not to share (If you want the 30s version... skip to the bottom):

Before the competition

I feel ecstatic to be in Miami. It's a bit of a surreal moment receiving my athlete badge. I had always seen this competition online and it looked so fun: 1,500 athletes, representing 26 countries, competing in 40 different divisions - Insanity! When heat and lane assignments came out, it was so strange to see my name next to 5-time regional veterans and 2-time GRID MVPs. It's hard not to feel some sense of inadequacy looking at that, since I've never made it past the Open. This was not only my first individual competition, but my first 3-day competition. (Every crossfit competition I'd done prior to this one had been 1 or 2 day competitions, and partner or team style.) A slight case of imposter syndrome - that I don't belong here. But nevertheless, I keep telling myself: you did the qualifier just like they did, and you're better than you've ever been. Go out there and do your thing. This is what we've been training for!

Day 1:

Friday's workouts were:

Climb Jump Walk, 12 min cap


Rope climbs
50 Dubs
2 x 25' HSW

Assault on Fran


Thrusters (85#)
Assault Bike Cals

I wanted to get Fran out of the way. Don't get me wrong - I like Fran, but adding the bike component makes it not really Fran anymore (more than half your time is spent on the bike, and it is no longer a sprint. Totally different approach and energy system.) To add some icing on the cake, I found out while I was warming up that the Fran time cap is 8 minutes, not 12. Awesome - I got 8:54 in practice, (and that was without having to run around, move your bar etc. I made it out of Fran better than expected - placed 15th on this one. Being able to keep the CTB unbroken saved me, since my thrusters and assault bike capacity are very average for my group. Starting to gain some confidence that I can hang with these girls.

The highlight of my weekend was the next workout. I ended up getting first in my division here (what ! ) and tying Camille (Le Blanc). I ended the day looking at the leader board thinking"Am I really in 3rd? - I'll take it!"

Second Day

WOD 4/5: Beauty & The Beast

"Beauty" (Min 0:00-6:00):

Heavy Grace: 30 C&J for time (145#):

"The Beast" (Min 6:01-16:00)

36 strict HSPU
36 cal row
24 axel bar hang power snatch (75#)
24 bar facing burpees
12 OHS (145#)
12 BMU

WOD 3:

WZA Biathlon,

21 min cap

1200m True Form Run
400m Open Water Swim
1200m True Form Run



The way it was written, the run swim run was meant to be before B&B, but the way the heats worked out, the run swim run ended up being done after, which was a blessing for me - I'll get to why. I got my ass handed to me on "Beauty"/Heavy Grace, but nothing I didn't already expect. (145# is my 72%, which is a relatively high percentage compared to the other girls, and Creatine Phosphate Battery is generally not my jam - I'm working on it.)

I expected to do better on the second part "The Beast"/Chipper, since I thrive in high skill movements (HSPU, Axel HPS, OHS, BMU). I did well on this portion - (better than I did in practice) but so did the other girls[😉]  apparently we're all good at this one. Very hard to separate yourself on this one, gotta really push for every last rep - Quick transitions and quick turnover the whole time. I scored middle of the pack here - 18th. This is one I'd like to re-test eventually. 

Next up was the run swim run. (Previously swim-paddle-run but they had to change this event on the fly because of weather.) I don't generally consider myself a runner, but I'm definitely more in tune with my aerobic capacity than I've ever been before, and I'm bobbing about 14 pounds lighter than I was in the off season, which makes running feel easier, so I don't mind it as much anymore. I had to learn True Form running for this one, and I kinda like it actually! The run wasn't the issue here. I absolutely underestimated the open water swim. 400m swim, touch the buoy and come back? No problem. YES PROBLEM, SHANNON, big problem! I spent the majority of that swim sucking ocean water and literally moaning my way through it. 

The guy on the kayak asked if I needed help (I probably did) but I declined. When I got back on the True Form for the second 1.2k run, I knew I had to make up time here so I started haulin. My engine was fine, but my stomach was not. I had to slow down a couple of times because I had a stomach full of Miami Bay salt water and thought I was gonna hurl on camera. I ended up getting time capped with 0.09 km left (so close!) and cried afterward :( My salt water stomach ache continued for the next 4 hours, which is why I say it was good that this one was after Beauty and the Beast, not before.

Final Day

I was surprised how easily I put yesterday's blow behind me (compartmentalizing, most likely) and moved on to focusing on the last 2 events:

WOD 7/8/9 Triple Finale, in 12 minutes:

400m run, for time
30 squat cleans (95#) & 20 MU for time (8 min cap)
Max Snatch in remainder of time 

WOD 6:  Monkeying Around,

7 min cap

150m Sandbag carry up & down a hill (120#)
2 x 9' Monkey Bar Traverse
30-20-10 TTB

I knew I could handle the TTB, but didn't know how 120# sandbag runs up and down a hill would go, cause I only ever practiced with a 100# DBall on flat ground. It went well! My strategy for the sandbag portion was to never drop the sandbag, and I didn't :) This event went by super quick, and I ended up coming in second. Woohoo!

For the finale, I told myself to just enjoy it.  I didn't know if/when the next time I'd be back here would be, and I wanted to soak up every last moment. I had a bit of a strategy on this one: The way the points are distributed, it rewards high placements by a larger margin than lower placements (its Regionals/Games scoring). So rather than putting equal energy into the three wods, I gunned it on the run, which ended up working out for me. The muscle ups were reallyyy tough to hold on to because my grip was taxed from the TTB workout before this one (crazy how each wod affects the next one - they're definitely not independent of each other.) I finished up with 4 min to establish a max snatch. After a couple misses at 135# (that NEVER happens) I got angry and hit my last snatch at 150# to end the day. I was happy to hit 87% under fatigue :) "The best you can do is the best you can do."

30-second Timeout Version:

Overall takeaways:

  1. This was an extremely well orchestrated event. I would absolutely do it again. The programming was thoughtful and well rounded. The judges and volunteers were all knowledgeable and timely. The girls were really good competition for me. 
  2. Training wise, this was really good feedback for me leading up to the Open. Where I need work, and where I just need to maintain, leading up to March. 
  3. There were a couple moments that reminded me of why I do this: Girls didn't have to help each other onto the dock to get out of the water, but they did. Girls didn't have to let other competitors borrow their equipment, but they did. Last year's winner didn't have to come over and calm me down when she saw me cry, but she did. You guys didn't have to tune in from home, but you did.
  4. The CrossFit community is really amazing. People want to see you do well. Every time i wanted to slow down, or didn't think I could peel my body off the ground for one more burpee, I imagined the people watching at home and all of a sudden I had a little more go in me.

I totally hope I make it back next year!

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

I feel incredibly excited when I get to have Dock in my class.  The way he shows up to me is coachable, upbeat and fast.  I was deeply inspired when he shared with me his journey from being significantly overweight to a light-speed athlete (before/after photos here).  Dock maintains his cool, calm and positive composure throughout the entire class, even when the workout gets tough.  He puts in extra time after class to work on strength and he’s such a genuinely friendly guy it’s hard not to smile when I’m in his presence.  Dock, I am grateful for the energy you bring to UB along with the fierceness as an athlete.

Name: Dock Howard (

Hometown: Chattham, Mass

Occupation: Software Engineer at Product Hunt

When did you first start CrossFitting?  2014

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit?  Saw a bunch of videos of the CrossFit Games and decided it would be fun to learn how to handstand walk which has become a lifelong goal.

Favorite WOD: “Sham” (7 Rounds For Time of 11 Bodyweight Deadlifts and 100M Sprint) I love running and deadlifts and doing them both really fast.

Least Favorite WOD: Anything with handstand push ups.

What is an unexpected way CrossFit has affected your life? CrossFit corrected a lot of unhealthy mentalities including thinking running alone was enough.  I’ve learned a lot about efficient movement and mobility. I’m no longer not just running really far.

What are you most excited about in the new year?  To pursue more goals professionally and artistically.  I’m applying to animation studios (Sony Pictures, Pixar, BlueSky) to work with artistic heroes and be their colleague.  With all the work I’ve created to date, I feel more confident in my ability to get these types of jobs.

What are you most grateful for in your life recently?  I’ve got the most supportive family of anyone I know, without them would be broken on the street.  Many put up with my financially unstable choice in career and commitment to extensive fitness habits.  They help me whenever they can.

What’s your definition of greatness?  Pushing your limits and exceeding them when you least expect.  Not necessarily accomplishing your goals but throwing everything you’ve to doing the work to crush them.  Accomplishment alone is not greatness, but having the ambition, grit and drive to go 110%.

What question do you wish you were asked more often and what is the answer?  “Are you absolutely sure?”  Maybe…





I’ve taken up getting (and staying) in shape as a life-long work in progress. It’s a relatively recent pursuit that has changed my life for the better. Working out has helped me through major issues I’ve struggled with including poor self esteem, anxiety and depression. I’m a much happier person than I was then and I look forward to every time I get to go class and see everyone at UB!


Pushing Through

Getting through long workouts like Morrison yesterday can be challenging.  You want to have fun.  You want to see results.  Unfortunately, these two things don't always go hand in hand.  Upping your intensity to the max during a workout isn't easy.  It isn't comfortable.  You look at the board, think "I am only on round two.. of five" (and let's admit it, round two is the worst), take a few defeated breaths before bearing down back into the workout just going through the motions.  Or even worse, you look over at uber-fit Mr. X, who glistens instead of sweats, and who is already wrapping up round four.  So what's the solution?  Pick a WOD goal for yourself and stick to it.  "I am going to do the next set of 7 unbroken," "I am going to finish this round before minute 6:00," "I am going to finish the workout by 18:00."  Whatever it is, giving yourself small carrots to chase after can help keep you focused and pushing yourself to do your best during the workout.

Food for Thought: It's You...

January is the time for goal setting, diets, and generally trying new things.  Hopefully all you want to create in 2017 is still on track.  One of my favorite random-thought CrossFit blogs, Words with Lisbeth, has some thoughts for those moments when you find all the reasons to let those goals fall apart...

There’s one common denominator in everything that happens to you.

It’s you.

Our egos don’t like to see that, though. They push off that responsibility. Slag it onto the nearest thing: people, technology, Trump, whatever.

But it’s you.

“Wait, this is unfair,” you say. “I did not grow up without influence. I do not live without influence. I am a product of my genes and my time and my location. The deck is stacked against me. And, sometimes, I have been a victim.”

Yup. And the common denominator is still you.

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“But I had a horrible childhood. A horrible marriage. A horrible meal. I didn’t sleep well last night. I haven’t slept well in 14 years. I’m allergic. I’m sick. I’m learning-disabled. I’m pre-menstrual. I’m gluten-sensitive. I’m co-dependent. I’m a Packers fan. I’m I’m I’m I’m …”

Sorry. But it’s still you.

The one sure thing that is present in every situation you find yourself in? You. That’s a simple, ineluctable fact.


I’m not saying anything is your fault or not your fault. (And I want to hug you for anything bad that happened to you.) I’m just saying that the only constant for everything that happens to you—good or bad—is you. So, make yourself as strong and as kind and as educated and as loving as you possibly can because you are the one constant everywhere you go.1

You have to be able to depend on you.

The world has enough weak and mean and ignorant and cruel. More than enough. We don’t need to fill that well. But goodness and kindness and love could use more help. 

If you’re one of the good guys and gals, it’s time to step it up. Improve. None of us have topped out. Most of us aren’t even close. Most of us are struggling every day.But that’s okay.1

I’m not asking you to become perfect. I’m just asking you to try more—in love and life and lifting and parenting and anything else that’s super-important to you. And I’m asking you to stop pointing your finger. Stop shuffling your feet. Stop acting like you’re eight years old and Mom’s going to yell at you for breaking the coffee table. (“This is why we can’t have nice things!”)

We are humans. Things get broken. Hearts get broken. People get broken. Life gets broken. 

Fault matters less than picking up the pieces and clearing the debris so no one else gets hurt.

Raise your hand.

“I did it. I’ll clean up.”

Start sweeping. There, now we’re getting somewhere.


Have You Registered for the House Cup Yet?

Hey!  Hey you! Have you registered for the house cup yet?  Why not?   

Participants from the United Barbell's first annual House Cup

Participants from the United Barbell's first annual House Cup

While we aren't ready to announce all the changes for this years 5 week House Cup smorgasbord, here are some things that are new this year to help you get on board:

It's Free

Want to register for the CrossFit Games?  Click the image above.

Want to register for the CrossFit Games?  Click the image above.

Last year, registration for the CrossFit Open was required in order to participate in the United Barbell House Cup.  Since then, the CrossFit Games has officially partnered with Glock handguns as a sponsor, handing out certificates for them as prizes at the event.  So we have decided to only require members to register with us to participate in the House Cup. 

We know many of you love participating in the CrossFit Open.  There is a great sense of competition and community created by comparing yourself to athletes participating globally.  You can absolutely still participate in the 2017 CrossFit Open... all we are saying is you don't have to.  

If You Miss a Week

Last year we had it set up so that if you were out of town for a week or two, you cost your team the 100% participation point.  This year we are working out a system so if you are out of town and cannot for a couple weeks participate, it will not penalize your team.

Scaled Division

For those of you who are new to the House Cup or the CrossFit Open, there are both scaled and RX versions of each workout, so all can participate.... no excuses!

We are hoping to announce the teams as soon as next week! So stop thinking about it and register!  (Captains - step it up!)

Watch Coach Shannon this Weekend!

Let the games begin!  No -- not those games.... WODAPALOOZA!! 

Today is the beginning of the 3 day extravaganza known as Wodapalooza in Miami Florida.  Coach Shannon will be competing in the in RX Women's devision today, tomorrow and Sunday.  Here is Shannon's Friday Schedule


  • WOD 1: "Assault on Fran"  - 9:13 AM (PST) - Stage: Flagler; Heat 10, Lane 6
  • WOD 2: "Climb, Jump, Walk" - 12:20PM (PST) - Stage: Bayside; Heat 21, Lane 10

The event is being webcast live on FloElite.  For those who wish to watch and have or purchase a membership, you can watch her here. (Unfortunately, it is a paid site)

Saturday and Sunday heats will be established by the previous days' performances.  Here are the day schedules:

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If you are reading this Shannon, we are all so proud of you and inspired by all the work you put in every day to be as awesome as you are.  Kick ass this weekend!

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

This week’s Daily Dose of Awesome goes out to Patrick Bedwell.  Patrick has been working out at UB since October, and has wasted no time jumping right in.  I had a chance to ask Patrick a few questions about his experience with Crossfit:

Q: How long have you been doing crossfit?

A: Since April 2014 (2 years, 9 months)

Q: What made you start?

A: I had been working out at 24hr Fitness for over 10 years, doing basically the same 10 exercises in the gym 3 days a week, and spinning 3 days a week. I had some friends who talked about CF, and it sounded challenging. I had no idea how much fun it would be to have a different workout every day, and new skills to master.

Q: What do you like best about United Barbell?

A: What I like the most about UB is the wide range of skills the members have, and the interest in different activities and competitions that a lot of members have.  Also, the quality of the coaching staff (working with Shannon and Shaheen have made a big difference in my skills in a short time), the defined standards for the Level 2 program, and the variety of specialized classes all are part of what attracted me to the gym.

Q: If Crossfit HQ let you create your own Benchmark WOD “Patrick”, what would it be

A: It would be a grinder that would start and end with running, and have DUs, wallballs, heavy cleans, bar-facing burpees and situps. Something for everyone!    

Outside the gym, Patrick enjoys doing Spartan races, and has two daughters who are 10 and 14. His favorite crossfit movement is running “and anything not involving a pullup bar.” He’s making good progress on working through his goats such as toes to bar, pull-ups, and chest to bar, and hopes to be competent in the by the time the Open comes around.

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If you’d like to see Patrick in action, sign up for the House Cup!  He’ll also be competing in the 55-59 division at the NorCal Masters Competition, a 2-day competition on Jan 28 & 29th at Craneway Pavilion in Richmond.

Working Out Sick

It's cold and rainy outside... all is well until suddenly you are down for the count with a cough that just won't go away and a runny nose that seems to be connected to a running faucet.  It's cold season.  And you've got one.  So the question is: do you work out?

Unfortunately there is no simple answer.  But before we get to that, you should remember that any public space (e.g. a gym) is a germ jamboree during cold season.  People bring them in from their kids' schools, from their jobs, and all sorts of other places.  Simply washing your hands or using hand cleaner throughout your day can significantly decrease your chances of even having to worry about working out sick - because you won't get sick.

But back on track - to work out or not.  Let's talk about a typical head cold.  If it's a cough, sore throat, sinus pain, sneezing, sniffles and that sort of thing, then it is fine to work out (without sharing!!)... so long as your cold isn't in conjunction with bad asthma or sluggishness.  Make sure you take the intensity down a notch while working out and pay extra care to your nutrition and up your hydration.  

Now if you have a fever on the other hand, or if you have cold symptoms from the chest down like chest congestion or muscle aches you might want to give yourself the day off.  When you start to have fluish symptoms, working out can do more harm than good.  Even medicated, you need rest.  Decongestants, for example, combined with intense workouts, can be dangerous, hard on the heart and make you more ill rather than allowing your body to focus on healing itself.

The bottom line is you need to listen to your body.  If you work out sick and something feels wrong - stop.  Sure, working out might help you feel better when you have a cold, but it's not worth it to push yourself too hard and risk getting yourself really ill. 

* Note: Think you're coming down with something?  Consider your fellow athletes before bringing it to the gym and contributing to the germ cesspool.

The 7 Unspoken Laws of a CrossFit Box

These 8 laws from BoxRox make life easier for everybody in a box (be it your home gym or while you are out and about in the world) and create the right environment for progress and improvement.

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This should go without saying. Sometimes it can be easy to lose count when fatigued and in pain, and it happens, but deliberately cutting reps to speed up a score and beat a rival is just sad, and I bet you’ve probably seen someone do it before.

The competitive element of CrossFit is a lot of fun, but the idea of any workout is primarily to make THE ATHLETE fitter, stronger, healthier and more mentally resilient. This changes in CrossFit competitions because the aim is to win, but at this level there are judges anyway to call out any cheaters.


This is one of the most impressive aspects of CrossFit. Of course, a WOD is competitive, but every single workout is also about helping EVERYONE involved to improve and work on their fitness together. You see this same mentality at every level of CrossFit, from events at The CrossFit Games right through to a first-time tryout class in a box.


Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, that’s part of being human. It’s a great feeling when you see a workout on the whiteboard that you know you can destroy because it involves everything that you’re good at. The opposite scenario is not so much fun, and it’s easy to avoid those kinds of workouts. If you make sure to tackle every WOD that comes your way, especially the ones you won’t be so good at, then you will be sure to improve your weaknesses.


This one just comes down to simple courtesy. It isn’t difficult to put all the plates, bars and equipment back in the racks, and to treat them with respect. There is always a slight ritualistic element to training, and the respect that comes with that should never be underrated. Look at martial arts, or Olympic weightlifting for great examples of this.

Watch Dmitry Klokov  in this amazing Thruster ladder from 122 kg (270 lbs) – 175 kg (385 lbs). After every lift he walks around the bar because for many Russian lifters, they see it as disrespectful to walk over the barbell.


Ego is important in CrossFit. It can be a powerful driving force to spur us on towards hitting new PRs. It can motivate us to compete and get better, or help with self-confidence and goal setting, but it can also be a hindrance and a thorn in the side of progress.

It can be a tricky balancing act to find this equilibrium. Crossfit workouts have a habit of exposing weaknesses in places that you didn’t even know existed. A well-rounded athlete that understands when to be humble and not let their ego get in the way can use these experiences to develop. An athlete that lets their ego dictate, ignoring weaknesses, repeating poor movement patterns and using bad form for the sake of speed and weight will eventually hit plateaus or injury.

It takes courage to accept that we may not be as good as we think at certain exercises sometimes. A great coach will help with this in a way that will inspire us to improve and progress in the correct way. To try and remove all ego from any athlete’s performance is too much of a psychological oversimplification. Ego has its time and place, but so does humility, the latter to a much greater degree (just look at 2015 CrossFit Games champion Ben Smith).


Every single CrossFitter has been a newbie at some point. It doesn’t matter if you are Mat Fraser or one week into a new year’s resolution to start CrossFit, we all had to walk into a Box for the first time at some point.

This first experience leaves an important lasting impression, what was yours like? Helping a first time CrossFitter can make a huge difference to their training, and be a powerful encouragement for them to continue.


There always seems to be at least one CrossFitter that loves chalking up a little too much and will use it for absolutely everything – even when it definitely isn’t needed. Burpees? Check. Double-unders? Check. Press ups? Check. Yes, I’ve even seen this happen!

This CrossFitter is normally enveloped by a huge cloud of white dust, which seems to follow them wherever they tread. Don’t be that guy!

Are there any you would add??

In the Mood

It doesn't take an elite athlete to know that working out is an emotional experience.  There is frustration, rage, determination, enthusiasm, just to name a few.  But which emotion gets you to your peak performance?  There is no right answer - it is different for everyone.  So why even ask?  Athletes should not only know the answer, but they should know what it takes to get themselves there.  Just like a coach trying to pump up a team pre-game, you need to be able to get yourself in the mood.  Being in control means better workouts and better results.

The first step is being aware of you how you feel.  The next time you are having a great workout or competition, note your mood.    Are you confident?  How about competitive or committed?  Then note what got you there.  Was it the feeling of succeeding under pressure?  The opportunity to share your abilities or strengths? The confidence of feeling well trained and prepared for the task at hand?  Understanding this process will allow you to dial in - and dial out any unhelpful mental chatter.

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If you are still having a hard time finding the mental calm, don't try to force it.  If you are having adverse emotions before or during a workout, normalize them and then move on.  If you focus on your bad emotions or try to reign them in, instead of letting them run their course, it will only become more distracting and destructive to your workout.

As you have heard us say before - the key is staying fully engaged with what you are doing.  Be present and focused on the task-relevant cues.  You will get distracted.   You will have negative thoughts or emotions - someone or something will take your focus.  Allow them to pass through you - acknowledge them and refocus.  This concept applies outside of sports as well, so if you are able to accomplish this during your workouts, not only will you be a better athlete and competitor, but a more focused person in life!