Wow. It is 2017. Where does the time go? In my mind I’ve written so many blog posts, yet somehow haven’t managed to get any of those ideas down on paper… So, we have a LOT to catch up on! No better time than the present, right?
Today let’s talk about the Crossfit Open, since it kicks off in exactly 2 short weeks! The Open entails 5 consecutive weeks of competition to begin the process of whittling the ever growing community of Crossfit athletes down to the ‘fittest’ athletes in the world. For 99% of participants, the Open is a test of fitness, an opportunity to see how your fitness has progressed and how ‘fit’ you are relative to the general Crossfit population (for the other 1% it is a cutthroat fight to the end). The Open stirs up so many feelings for me, but before I get into that, let me give you a little more context about my experiences.
This will be my… let’s see… 4th year participating! How can that be? Amazingly, every year has been a truly incredible experience – each with distinct memories – like they happened yesterday. During my first Crossfit Open workout (14.1) I was defeated by double unders. I could not for the life of me, string more than 2-3 single-double-single-doubles together at a time. It killed me. Mentally and physically. I knew I had more in me, but just couldn’t get my body to do them. Determined to do better, I came back to the gym the next day, and parked myself there UNTIL I FIGURED IT OUT. It took a good 30-40 minutes of stop-start-stop-start, drenched with sweat and covered in whip marks, but ultimately I got rid of the single between the doubles and strung together sets of 5-10. I called it a day and returned to face 14.1 again, on the Monday scores were due, practiced for 10 minutes, repeated the workout and improved my score by 82 reps (135 reps to 217 reps). That is called urgency.
The very next workout (just 5 days later!) called for overhead squats + chest to bar pull ups. Having JUST gotten my first PULL UP, I hit a wall at chest to bar pull ups. Couldn’t do a single rep, let alone the (2 sets of) 10 reps that were programmed, and ended up with a score of 10 (overhead squats). Demoralizing , yet incredibly motivating. That workout was repeated the next year (364 days later) and I got through multiple rounds of the dreaded movement, improving my score from 10 to 81 reps!
I could go on and on (and maybe some day I will share more open stories), but suffice it to say, the Open has been an extremely motivating and rewarding experience for me. That sense of urgency has stayed with me ever since 14.1, keeping me motivated to continue to improve. Sometimes improvement comes just in the nick of time (‘getting’ double unders in time for 14.1) and sometimes it takes months and months of hard work, frustration and persistence. Sometimes it comes in giant steps and sometimes the change is so slow it is barely discernable week to week, or even month to month. But with a yearlong timeframe, chances are good that improvement can be seen.
So back to how I’m feeling about this year’s Open. So many feelings. Mainly, I’m excited! It’s a fun time – a time when friends and athletes come together to watch the workout announcements and strategize and cheer each other on. There’s the healthy heckling and competition between athletes, as we move up and down the leaderboard, each with his or her own strengths and weaknesses. With tears of happiness and pride in my eyes and voice hoarse from yelling, I have watched countless friends and fellow athletes achieve their first Pull Up/Muscle Up/Handstand Push Up/PR a lift during the Open. I feel the same amount of respect for the athletes (like me) who spend 10+ minutes of an Open workout TRYING (and sometimes failing) to get a first [pick your poison], yet refusing to give up. The shared experience of achievement and challenge that the Open brings is truly meaningful and creates a lasting feeling of connection unlike anything else.
My personal goal every year is singular. I want to do the best that I can do in every workout. I HOPE that means that I will be ‘better’ than last year. By ‘better,’ I mean better than myself. Lucky for us, there is usually a workout that gets repeated from year to year– this is really the one place I can judge whether I’ve gotten better. Did I get a better score (time, # reps) on this workout than I did last year?
Assuming I put forth my best effort on all workouts, I also HOPE that means I got better, faster than my peers, and therefore, my relative performance (rank) will be better. I would love to outperform the vast majority of my peer group, and land myself in the top 200 of my age group, worldwide (and therefore move on to the next level of competition). I’d also like to see my rank improve vs. all athletes in NorCal. My trajectory has been pretty good (from #325 among women in Northern California in 2015 to #106 in 2016). But frankly, I have zero control over my peer group, so my only concern is me.
In the coming weeks, I’ll share more about my Open experiences, physical and psychological prep, plus the strategy I will use for workouts and other rituals that help me. Stay tuned!