The rope burn has healed. The scabs from the box jump scars have peeled off. And finally, the permanent marker used to identify me that weekend has washed off.
Ok, so I actually started writing this a few weeks ago, but I moved apartments, went on vacation, and I never finished it. But at this point, the past is the past, good times don’t last, but memories do, or something like that they say.
I am a Crossfit Regionals athlete. This is a fact that can never be taken away from me. I put in the time. I had a plan, I executed, and I set myself apart as one of the top 20 fittest women in the states of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina as decided by the ultimate test of fitness- the Crossfit Open. Had it been Top 50, like Regionals of yesteryear, it wouldn’t have been as special. It wouldn’t have meant as much; I would have qualified my very first year doing Crossfit 2 years ago. No, I needed to take my training to a new level to qualify for Regionals. “To accomplish things you’ve never accomplished before, you need to do things you’ve never done,” or some cliché like that. At the end of that five week test, where I only did each workout once, and maintained my focus on weightlifting, I finished 12th in the Mid-Atlantic region.
At the end of those five weeks, I took three days off, and then was in full bore weightlifting mode. I had made the decision back in December that weightlifting was going to be my focus, but I had already put in too much work to give up on the Regionals dream. I had accomplished the goal of qualifying, so now it was time to put Crossfit way on the back burner. I continued to practice some Crossfit movements, did very short anaerobic work (row/bike sprints) and very long aerobic work. I essentially avoided the things that suck- workouts like those crappy lactic intervals (3-5 minutes long) that make your lungs burn, and movements that send your muscles into the pain cave like high repetition muscle ups or high rep heavy wall balls- things you NEED to do if you want to succeed in Crossfit. I knew I would have a good strength base, and was doing enough to get by, and I was hoping the yet-to-be-announced Regionals workouts would play to those strengths.
Weightlifting Nationals came and went. Read about that high here I had given my body and my mind completely to that weekend (May 12-14), and it resulted in me being the 4th best weightlifter in my weight class in the country (which is awesome, but leaves me so hungry). I took that Sunday and Monday completely off, then it was time to switch gears.
All of the Regionals workouts had been announced, and unfortunately, none of them looked like they were going to particularly suit me (note: I get it, if you want to consider yourself among the fittest on earth, you need to be good at everything and have no weakness, but I was hoping to get a little lucky). Fortunately though, the Atlantic Regional was the last weekend, so I had about 2 ½ weeks to flip the switch. Through that time, I hurt, I suffered through workouts by myself, figured out how to be efficient for me, and then I recovered and tapered for June 2nd.
I arrived in Atlanta Thursday morning (June 1st) and had the whole day to chill (side note: maybe upcoming blog post- it would have been nice to have a swolemate to chill with and walk around and explore a little that day. I remember thinking to myself, “Maybe if I didn’t spend so much time working out, I’d have time to go out and meet someone.” But then when I got to the convention center later that day, I was reminded that these are my people, and this is the kind of place where someone I would actually want to be with would be anyway LOL). When I went to check in at the Georgia World Congress Center (which is MASSIVE, by the way), I got my weight vest fitted and was playing with some of the movements with the vest on. It was at this point that I finally felt some excitement about the weekend of competition ahead. If I’m truly being honest, it was the only time I felt that way all weekend.
I’m a competitor and I’m an athlete. I most certainly was going to compete and was not going to let myself down. And when I wanted to quit and thought I stopped caring about myself, I thought about all of the wonderful people who support me who I couldn’t let down. If I’m being real, it was really hard to get hype for each event. I thought it would come when I started warming up. I thought it would come when we lined up in the corral. I thought it would come on the starting mat. It would definitely have to come when I was out there on the floor. The whole time I was just kind of going through the movements. There were some events I straight up did not want to do, I had to force myself to put my head down and get through them. Knowing so many people cared about me is what mostly helped me make it through. When I looked up during the 11th round (out of 12) of air squats during that first event and saw Eric and Amanda at the finish line, it was like I saw the light at the end of the tunnel and there were my friends at it! I seriously cannot thank everyone who supported me enough. You inspired me more than you know.
The weekend itself was a blur—full of force feeding myself, a lot of FitAid, Megan (Back in Balance Massage) constantly releasing my diaphragm, and a seemingly never ending cycle of warming up, working out, cooling down, wanting only to lay down. The events kind of run together in my mind now, but here are some memories I have: being the last one off of the treadmill by A LOT, but then catching the girl next to me in the 9th or 10th round of handstand push ups; the butterfly kip I figured out on the ring dips not meaning jack turds because they went to singles anyway; making it through the rope climbs moving fairly strong in Event 3, only to have no arms left after them to catch wall balls- LOL those wall balls were literally knocking me over as they fell back to the earth, my dad texted me after that event and said “ I don’t know if I’ve ever seen you hurting so much,” LOL; the GINORMOUS kettle bells banging against my super tight/tender IT bands and quads as I (kind of easily) deadlifted them; being the third one off the muscle ups in Event 5, then having my judge tell me that my DB overhead squats were beautiful (duh, yes, I know, I’m a weightlifter)- this is the event that surprised me the most, my muscle ups were stronger than I practiced and anticipated; and finally, being 8 sandbag cleans deep in the final event and realizing I should probably pick it up, then crushing the last 2 reps and running to the finish line to beat the girl next to me.
I ran my races, but always made sure I wasn’t last. And I never was. I never felt embarrassed or that I didn’t belong. I was pretty consistent in my placings- low/mid 30s-high 20s, but I didn’t have any one super event (e.g. heavy snatch ladder), where I was able to place really well to bump my overall placing up. Overall, I finished 34th or 35th, I don’t know, it doesn’t matter. I know that if I had actually trained for Crossfit, I could have been in the 20s, maybe even teens, even with events that didn’t suit me- and imagine if there had been (you know, the one year I finally make Regionals and there are no barbells…). I met a lot of really cool people, and all the volunteers were awesome. The atmosphere in the building was electric. The venue, maybe not big enough for the whole crowd, felt cozy and made everything seem louder and more rowdy. I was never in the top heat, so I didn’t fully experience the roar of the crowd, but even for my heat, the crowd was never silent, and it was really cool to be part of. They really do create an amazing environment and exciting experience for the athletes and fans. I was just not at a place or time in my athletic life to fully embrace it.
I’ve had a lot of time to think after it was all said and done, with most of June being a deload time for me. Here I am going to share some of my deepest thoughts, and I think it will help me to move forward to get them out. First, I think Weightlifting Nationals took a lot more out of me emotionally than I recognized. As I was going through that 2 ½ week transition, I forced myself to be mentally tough, but I was drained. I knew my body would be tired, but I didn’t understand why I was having to fight so hard mentally for every single rep in that training. I assumed my emotional and mental capacity was limitless and I would be able to flip a switch in my mind after a high stress situation like a national weightlifting meet (and the weeks leading up to it) to being just as mentally strong for a completely different high stress event. Now look, I’m not one to put limits on things, especially when my mental toughness is coming into question. Maybe this is something up for discussion- I’m still not convinced mental capacity is limitless, but maybe it needs to be recharged before continuing to push the limits? I love competing. But this was different, something I never experienced before. Maybe if I had figured out and acknowledged this emotional toll, I would have been able to deal with it better, or it wouldn’t have been so hard. Or maybe going from one high stress event to a completely different one in the same month just is hard, and maybe I handled it as best I could. I don’t know. I do know I tried to make the best of what I was capable of, and I regret nothing. Second, I hate not being good at things. That’s why I work so hard. I believe I could work hard enough at anything and get really good at it- anybody could. Then when the day comes to be tested, I am nervous, excited, pumped up, and fearless because I know the potential I have to really do well because I am confident in the work I know I put in. Going into Regionals, I know I didn’t put the work in. I didn’t get that nervous but excited feeling because I wasn’t sure of how I was going to do. I didn’t have confidence in my potential to do well.
I recently listened to a Finding Mastery– Conversations with Michael Gervais podcast with Jon Gordon (author of The Energy Bus, Training Camp, etc.) and they were talking about why people are successful. They brought up the question of are successful people driven more by love of competing or fear of failure? I thought hard about it, and decided that for me, it’s a little of both. I work my butt off every day out of fear, fear of not being competent on game day, fear of not having confidence on game day. Then when game day comes, I succeed because I have no fear, because I am confident, because I love competing and I thrive when the lights are shining. I thrive because I have seen the moment over and over in my head and in practice, and I am able to keep my emotions in check and focus on what is important. Any thoughts?
Overall, I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to compete on such a big stage in the fitness world. It was a fun experience, and I knew not to take it for granted. I will never forget the lessons I learned from this experience. It was very cool to be there, and of course, at the end of the long weekend, there was room for ice cream. #ihavethebestlife Love yours too, my friends.
Favorite Regionals Workout: Event 5 (21-15-9 Muscle ups, DB Overhead Squats 55#). I love the feeling of muscle ups- it feels like you’re flying, like you’re weightless (until of course, towards the end of the set when you feel like you weigh 1000lbs and can’t get yourself out of the dip). And also because I CRUSHED the overhead squats.
Nerdy Athletic Training Tidbit: I believe that Megan continually releasing my diaphragm all weekend really helped me to be successful and injury-free in making through 6 grueling workouts. You see, when you are breathing heavy or inefficiently, your diaphragm (the top of the cylinder that is your core) gets “stuck”. Your diaphragm attaches to the costal cartilages of ribs 7-12, the lumbar vertebrae, and the xiphoid process of the sternum (its anatomy is much more complex, but this is sufficient for now). Based on the attachment to the costal cartilage of the ribs and sternum, it can affect your shoulder mechanics- if it’s stuck, it might make your upper back stiff, which needs to have the freedom to fully extend, flex, side bend, and rotate, which would make your shoulders have to do more work to get into the positions needed for Crossfit movements = shoulder injury. The attachment to the lumbar vertebrae and its interaction with quadratus lumborum (simply put, a low back muscle), can make your low back stiff/stuck in extension, which would make your hips have to compensate, which could lead to all sorts of issues down the chain = hip, knee, ankle, foot, back, thigh, etc. injury. I’m sure there are complete books written on this topic, and Megan could probably talk for days about the diaphragm, so if you have any questions, schedule an appointment with her at Back in Balance Massage binbtherapy.com . I’m a believer. I was sore during and after Regionals, but I was healthy.
Ice Cream Flavor of the Weekend: I got a bigg azzz chocolate hot fudge sundae when all was said and done
Shout Out: to each and every single person who supported me- who came to the happy hour, who wrote on my wall, who commented on my pictures, who “liked” my posts, who texted me, who helped me get through the rough transition time, who loved me and was proud of me whether I am 4th or 34th