Open Journal: Dani Speegle Analyzes Her Performance and Strategy Week-by-Week
The first ever Open in the new era of the CrossFit Games has ended and, following video verification, the next batch of CrossFit Games qualifiers will be determined.
Dani Speegle is currently in line to qualify as the United States National Champion, and now that the Open is in the rearview, she took the time to reflect on each workout and the major takeaways from each week.
Score: 344 Reps – 13th Worldwide, 13th place Overall after week 1
Dani’s Take: The first attempt of 19.1 was fantastic because it was during the SiD competition. Being out on the competition floor always inspires good scores so it was a great time; with a lot of amazing athletes. For me the wall balls were the easy part so as I would start, I would relax 1-2-3-4 ok this isn’t so bad…breathe. 14-15-16 damn I have to get back on the rower really soon. The redo on this one was rough. Going straight from the competition to a box to redo 19.1 was mentally, emotionally, and absolutely physically draining. I was burnt out from the competition, my body was tired, and my mind was not ready for 15 more minutes of pain. I went into the Open saying I wanted to qualify for the Games through a top 20 spot. Of course, I would have ecstatically accepted a passed down sanctioned event invite; but I wanted to really “earn” it. In my head that validated that I deserved to be at the games. So I strapped in for 15 more minutes. During that redo the whole time I just kept one thing on repeat, “Don’t do it for nothing.”
Tommy’s Analysis: Speegle’s performance in 19.1 was a testament to both the raw engine she’s built along with her ability to perform at a high level when less than 100%. Speeglei’s best score came as the 8th workout in two days after she competed at Strength in Depth and then chose to retest shortly after the competition wrapped. The Open always includes some engine work, and starting it off with a top 15 score worldwide, after seven other workouts in a foreign country, was a huge win for Speegle.
Score: 15:41 – 7th Worldwide, 3rd place Overall after week 2
Dani’s Take: This has been and most likely will always be one of my favorite Open workouts. It’s beautiful in my opinion. A perfect mixture of skill, gymnastics, strength, endurance, and mental toughness. When I first did this Open workout in 2016 it was my first Open. I couldn’t finish the workout because at the time I couldn’t squat clean 205, so it was amazing to have a chance to tackle it again. My first attempt was just to move through it and see how it feels. The second attempt I had to have my rest counted for me. As soon as I stopped moving I would hear 1, 2, 3, 4….and I would think ok you’re resting too long get back up on the bar. It kept me in check. I remember laying on the ground after the workout thinking, “I hope they repeat this one again in a couple of years.”
Tommy’s Analysis: One of the best evolutions of CrossFit Games programming in recent years is the way Dave Castro has been able to differentiate the “strong and fit,” from the “just strong,” by making athletes earn the right to lift heavy with significant work leading up to it. It’s allowed the elite of the sport to truly separate themselves, and that’s precisely what Speegle did in 19.2. She’s made some highlight reel lifts in Dubai, Wodapalooza, and Strength in Depth, but doing so after 125 toes-to-bar, and 250 “dubs,” falls into the category of Games level “fit and strong.”
Score: 8:17 – 22nd Worldwide, 4th place Overall
Dani’s Take: SHOULDER CITY. The only time in my life I’ve ever failed a handstand walk was during this workout. During my first attempt, my first time going into the handstand walk portion I collapsed. My shoulders were just like, “Nope not today.” I love handstand push-ups, handstand walks, etc. and while I was super excited to do this workout it also frustrated me immensely. During the lunges I knew it would always take eight steps to do a length. I would just count to eight, turn around and go again. I kept thinking “it’s only eight trips, eight steps each trip” — eight isn’t a scary number. Then the box step-ups were mostly me thinking of the strict handstand push-ups. For me I can tell how those would feel as soon as I kicked up. I didn’t have to do any to know if I felt good or not; it would only take me kicking up onto my hands.
During the 50 box step-ups I was counting to 10 while also thinking “God I hope my shoulders feel good.” I kicked up, and they did not, not on the redo anyways. They were still fatigued from the first attempt, but I was able to chug along. Handstand walks also went better – no falling this time, which was a relief. In workouts like this when you go into your redo thinking you want to go a minute faster, and you only go 17 seconds faster, or 1 second, or not faster at all, you just stare. You’re on the floor and you just stare for a bit a little shell shocked; at least that’s what happens to me. But every WOD, every second is a learning experience.
Tommy’s Analysis: The biggest roadblock in the Open yet, the strict handstand push-ups, did little to knock Speegle off her path, despite her admitted struggles. For an athlete that has shown elite level power and strength, to be able to turn around and handle this level of strict gymnastics with “relative ease,” is the type of mixture indicative of a top 10 contender at the Games. The time cap was pretty aggressive, and seeing veterans Alessandra Pichelli and Lauren Fisher get capped in the announcement shows just how well-rounded Speegle’s skill set is. She’s a serious threat to win the United States National Championship.
Score: 9:25 – 20th Worldwide, 3rd place Overall
Dani’s Take: This WOD hurt my feelings. I got to do this workout for this first time at my gym’s Thursday night lights showdown with none other than my boyfriend and coach – Alex. The atmosphere was electric and I will pretty much sell my soul to beat Alex in workouts so the energy was REAL. It’s never “easy” to hurt but when you have an entire gym and community screaming at you it makes it SO worth it. The family and support and love I get at SUBU CrossFit is unmatched; it’s unwavering, unconditional, and unbelievable.
This workout was innocent on paper and diabolical in action. Three rounds of 10 and 12? No big deal. WRONG. BIG DEAL. The first three rounds with the snatches and burpees was just, okay how fast can you go? But then again it was also how fast can you go and recover for the next 3 rounds? The rounds of the bar muscle-ups and burpees was rough to say the least. My first attempt I would go until I felt like I needed to break the bar muscle-ups but then I hit the “bend over and die a little” position. On my redo I forced myself to stay on the bar and honestly in the 2nd and 3rd round it got a little scary.
“Rep 7: Oooooo that was close.”
“Rep 8: Ok I might fail the next one.”
“Rep 9: I can’t believe I made it up. Maybe I should come down. No it’s only one more suck it up.”
“Rep 10: ya, that was close. Yikes.”
Then during the burpees I was moving at a turtle pace. The unbroken bar muscle-ups did not save me a lot of time. But it’s always good to try new strategies and see what you’re capable of.
Tommy’s Analysis: Another Open curveball, this time coming in the form of required rest, and another base hit for Speegle. All else being equal, the smaller athlete wins in this workout with so much of it being dependent on burpees and bar muscle ups. The average weight of the 19 women ahead of her in this workout was 133-lbs, which makes Speegle’s performance as a 168-lb athlete that much more impressive. If the only two women ahead of you on the worldwide leaderboard with one week left have a “dottir,” at the end of your name, then Reebok better start working on your jersey for the Games in Madison.
Score: 8:48 – 37th Worldwide, Unofficially finishes 5th overall, U.S. National Champion.
Dani’s Take: This was the WOD that challenged me and pretty much broke me.
It was the final week of the Open; for athletes, it was week five of being in competition mode. For me with all the qualifiers and competitions I’ve done I’ve been in “game mode” since the Dubai qualifier in November. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was tired.
This workout got me mentally. I looked at my time of 8:48 – a full minute slower than what Tia did on the live announcement and I beat myself up about it the rest of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. When I came in to retest on Monday I was sore, mentally not there, and already over it. I kept my sets smaller and counted my rest and tried my best to get right back on it. I kept trying to tell myself to just go, that it’ll be over soon.
I got through the round of 33 and 27 and walked out of my gym. I broke down and honestly thought I had done so poorly that my chances of winning the United States were absolutely over and I would be lucky to stay top 10 worldwide. All of that right there is something I’m still trying to work on. This sport is a constant lesson. It’s also a constant reminder that it’s how you react to situations and learn from them that creates great athletes. Workouts don’t always to according to plan but if you learn why and take something away from each workout then it’s no longer a loss. I learned a lot throughout the open season – especially during 19.5.
Tommy’s Analysis: This workout was the only workout where Speegle didn’t follow through with a retest to improve her overall score, meaning she was good enough for 37th worldwide in this grueling workout at first crack. Going a step further, as of right now 15 of the women ahead of her in the workout won’t be at the Games, so her performance is actually much better relative to her peers she’ll be lining up next to in August. Even though the workout slid her a couple spots down the worldwide leaderboard, it kept her in the top five, and still secured her spot – pending video review – as national Champion for the United States. The term Dark Horse no longer applies now that Dani Speegle has clearly proven herself.