Worlds Away, Amongst Friends

A Regional competition on a National level

A short time ago I received a phone call — inside of which I was asked if I would like to travel to Copenhagen, Denmark and tell the story of the CrossFit Games Europe Regionals. I had never been outside off the Americas, and it happened to recently added to my vision board at the beginning of the year, so it was time to make it real. Thursday morning when I arrived in Paris, my second stop along the way (who cares about Detroit) and it was there that I realized that this was not America. It was a cool new feeling to have to learn how to navigate simple obstacles when you don’t speak the native language. (Hand signals are clutch). Luckily airports are full of multilingual folks and I was able to smile my way into being chauffeured to my next gate. The Europe Regionals were so much more than I ever could have imagined. CrossFit is such a powerful and unifying activity. I’ve seen this at home among people of different walks of life. However when you elevate it to a global level, there is an unbelievable sense of heightened of connectivity. In other words when you bring together people of different nationality and challenge them to represent themselves, their box and their country in an international competition, you are setting the stage for something EPIC. This may be true for other sports. This may just be how everything in Europe is, but I had never seen it in person before and I’d like to believe that CrossFit brings out a competitive fire that cannot be matched by many other sports.

It will take me a long time to understand the magnitude of everything we accomplished this weekend and the magic that I was able to witness. I remember at one point standing on the competition floor and just taking in the atmosphere. I would tarnish the memory if I tried to describe it. There are moments in your life when you are able to look back and say, “That was truly something special.,” but there are only a few times where you can stand in the midst of something and recognize its value in the moment that it occurs. That is what happened to me over the last 4-5 days.

CrossFit creates an opportunity for people to reconnect with themselves. These Regional competitions bring together competitors, volunteers, spectators and staff that share a common bond. The Europe Regional was a fantastic snapshot of concentrated wellness. I am honored to have been a part of it.

Breaking

Another training cycle is in the books. Looking back it was probably the most difficult ones yet. Training freakin’ sucks sometimes. Training at CrossFit Central brings with it a level of expectations that can crush you if you don’t understand what you are doing.

If you lose sight of your goals will find yourself hating what you claim to love. For a few weeks this was me. Somewhere in the middle of a hellacious squat wave I broke mentally. Losing sight of my goals, I drifted off into a terrible limbo of indifference and frustration. Workouts were not fun, in fact they hurt and seemed to be in the way. And then came the Open..(I’ve already out that subject to bed so if you aren’t caught up on that, read my previous blogs). Despite all of my missed lifts, last place finishes and mediocre performances I managed to do one thing right. I kept showing up. Each day I put my excuses aside and gave each day  a go. I am not condoning just showing up. But some days that is all you can do. Sometime maintaining is its own victory.

Training isn’t supposed to be easy. It is meant to push, shove or even sometimes drag you through the mud in order to progress. This last cycle has been one of the hardest things I’ve done in a while. But I stuck with it and paid my dues. During De-Load week, I set a Personal Record in the following lifts:

Most attempted Muscle Ups W/O a miss: 17

  • Fastest Mile
  • 455 lbs Squat
  • 320 Clean & Jerk
  • 1st workout completed unbroken
  • 300lbs Bench (not an all time PR but its been a while)

Point being – sometimes you need to struggle. Sometimes progress is draped with pain. Good training is meant to break you. Welcome it.

The Worst 4 Minutes

The Worst 4 Minutes – My 13.5 Experience

The Open has been 5 weeks of lessons, stress, excitement, growth, ups, downs and frustration. The first two workouts got the best of me, but I began to come into my own after having a huge break through on 13.3. After putting up a solid showing on 13.4, I was excited to close out the Open strong. And then the workout was announced…..

I cannot lie I was in shock for about a day and then I started to get excited about the challenge. I knew I could make it out of the first round. Last year, no way, but this year I had the skills and if I executed everything perfectly, I would make it. Leading up to the workout, I would bounce from being excited about the challenge to weary of the pain.

I showed up yesterday (Friday) ready to go. My plan was to go for it full tilt and leave it on the mat.

[The Workout Begins] I flew out of the gates (as planned) executing the first two rounds almost perfectly. ALMOST! On my second round of C2B Pull Ups,  I got lost and came of the bar with only 13 reps completed(Critical Mistake 1). That cost me valuable time. In the midst of that confusion, I made critical mistake 2. I miss heard the time keeper while executing my final round of thrusters (my fault not his) causing me to break my last round at the 3 minute mark when I could have pushed through and completed the set unbroken. As soon as I let go of the barbell an unexplainable pain engulfed my entire body. I have NEVER felt anything like that before. I worked tried to pull it together, but it was too late. I finished with 77 reps. I was disappointed to say the absolute least.

[Re-Do] I have had no desire to re-do a workout until 13.5. It has been eating at me ever since I completed the workout. But I will hold true to one and done and accept my score. If I were to do this workout again, it would not be for the right reasons or intentions. This is will be a tremendous lesson for me to digest over the next year. That is probably a good thing.

Overall I am so proud of myself and how I performed in the 2013 Open. I am so ready to get back to work.

The picture above is of Chelsea Ross from RedBlack Gym. She showed up and smashed 13.5. 138 Reps – It was awesome to watch!

Photo Credit: Nicole Hughes

Small Victories

[Small Victories] – I have talked about them before but they have been a recurring theme lately in my life so here i go.

Doing the CrossFit Games Open is a mental mind trip. Competing against 120,000 people can literally make you crazy. Leaderboarding, worrying about alleged cheaters, worrying about your skill set, worrying about worrying, lack of support from teammates, and leaderboarding can turn you into a very unfun person. The past two years I have stressed myself into a corner worrying about these things, but this year is different.

As I said in a previous blog, this year is about me. The Open is a competition of one, me vs. me last year. I really could care less how I stack up to anyone. In my progression as an athlete in this sport that is what I can manage right. To be honest I am actually having fun this year and making significant progress. Specifically on 13.3 I improved 43 points from the previous year. That is a small victory with huge implications for me. I literally remember the moment when I decided I was going to push past the exhaustion and get to the rings. That was a powerful moment for me on many levels.

[Three down, two left] I am ready to knock out these last few workouts and see how far I have come. Maybe in future years I will compete against other people, but this year is about me and I’m cool with that.

I’ve been an athlete my entire life and I have learned that there are ebbs and flows in my progression. I can’t expect more than I have put in. In other words, there is no reason for me to be disappointed that I didn’t get 30 muscle ups because I have not invested the sweat equity to be able to pull of that performance. Think about that.

Constant Teacher

The barbell has no meaning, except that which you impress upon it. The barbell force soreness, bloody or callused hands upon you. It doesn’t ask you to pick it up when you are exhausted. It does not want to be slammed down victoriously when you break through a performance barrier. The barbell asks nothing of you. You ask it of yourself to perform. The barbell is a merely a reflection of you.

This metal is simply and instrument of your maturation. The rules do not change, you only learn how to better operate within them. The barbell remains constant, It is you that transforms.