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This year's CrossFit Open left a huge impression on me. Maybe it's because I'm really starting to understand how much we all get out of this event--how it challenges us and teaches us to expect more of ourselves. Maybe it's because this year I didn't feel like this was a personal challenge, but this was our team's first challenge together. I wanted people to surprise and impress themselves. I wanted them to have fun and to feel the energy of all the support surrounding them. Here are some of my personal experiences that I noted from this year's open. (I wish I could have included moments from every one of our team members' experiences, but please add your own memories and lessons from participating or watching the events.)
I've never seen so many people come in to practice the snatch. Never. Suddenly people care about getting better because they're being put to the test. They will not get to choose their own weights. Someone will be watching and judging. They will be submitting a score for the world (or 138,000 other CrossFitters) to see.
Kelly, Danielle, and Eva throw 75 pounds over their head for the first time. Theresa gets her first 100 pound snatch while practicing. Josh gets frustrated with his first score, comes in to practice, and repeats the WOD so he can get a few reps in at 135#. Jeff, despite his hatred of snatches, figures out how to overcome that 135# and then does it again. And again. Several others redo the workout just to fight for a few more reps because they want their score to reflect their very best. Even those who can't get the weight overhead are inspiring to watch--maybe even more so. It takes guts to fight with a barbell that has more weight than you know what to do with. It takes courage to throw it up there with everything you have, to miss the lift, and then to go back for more.
This week makes us all stop and really analyze our strengths and weaknesses, our lung capacity, our muscular endurance, our will to keep pushing when we want to quit. And many of us want to quit before that 10 minute mark. But we don't. I remember hearing Joseph's voice telling me that I have to keep moving--I can push for another minute--this is where it counts. In fact, not only does everyone finish the WOD, many repeat this workout just to test what methods are most efficient. Angelica destroys her first score! Lacy surprises herself by not only meeting her goal but getting beyond it. People are not only working hard this week, but they're reflecting and learning from it.
A repeat from last year--those of us who've done this one know how much harder it is in practice than on paper. It's a chance for redemption. I don't want to think too much about this one, so I go for it the first night. I know what I have to do, and it's time to put myself to the test.
There's a moment in 13.3 when you get past the double unders and find yourself standing at the rings, when you know you have the time, and now there's no excuse. I have one chance. I know this. It is the most painful muscle up I've ever done--but there is a room full of people watching and waiting for me to lock it out. My arms do not want to move. I grunt pretty loudly--at least that's how Lucas impersonates me a few days later, but I make it up there. That's all I can ask for--a moment of payoff for all the hard work.
Etim improves his score from last year. So does Kris. And Trainer Chris kills this WOD with 12 muscle ups! Joseph encourages Sergio to keep fighting for it when it gets tough. A lot of people are frustrated with this one. They think, why can't I do these things more easily? If I can do 10 or 20 wall balls at the prescribed weight, why can't I get through 150 faster? Others realize they haven't been trying the prescribed weight--they've been cruising easy street with a lighter ball or not quite throwing all the way to the line because it's too difficult.
Some of us wish we were taller so that we could reach a little higher without so much struggle. But this is the nature of it. The shorter athletes will squat faster and rep out push ups like nothing. The tall ones will get up the rope in one pull and row twice the distance in half the time. The thing is, if you have something in your way and you need to climb over it, the world doesn't care if you're tall or short. If you lift something off the ground, the world doesn't care how long or short your arms are. The answer is in getting stronger and working harder--not in making excuses. The sooner we embrace our personal strengths and our challenges, the sooner we realize what we need to do to keep up and maximize our potential.
Repping out 150 wall balls, no matter who you are, is difficult. It's more difficult than it sounds. The people who make it look easy have been working their asses off for a long time. They've spent years training to build up the work capacity to power through those reps. They are the people who no rep themselves when they don't squat below parallel or when their ball misses the target. They know their own fitness capacity like the back of their hand, and they also know better than to underestimate a CrossFit workout. Sometimes the best we can ask for is to be a little better than we were before--and that's something to celebrate.
This is a heavy one for many people. In fact, if you look at the average time our team members have been doing CrossFit, we are probably one of the youngest teams out there. It takes time to develop the strength to throw those weights around for multiple reps. Some people wonder why the toes to bar aren't first--they just want to knock out their three reps to move on. But CrossFit isn't taking it easy on us this week. It's really time to push it and see what we're made of.
Marta, who has been doing CrossFit for just over a month, gets a big PR with her 95# clean and jerk. Derek and Diana come in to practice and struggle trying to clean the weight. They decide to show up on Saturday and go for it anyway never having lifted 135/95# before, just to see what happens. As soon as the clock starts, Derek throws the weight up. And then he continues for a score of 21! Diana, who just weeks ago fought with the 75# cleans in 13.2, gets a 95# clean and jerk twice! Arne destroys this one. That motivates Anthony to push even harder on Sunday. Sergio and Carlos go head to head on Saturday, with Sergio taking the lead. On Sunday, Carlos wants a chance to beat Sergio's score, and he does. Then Sergio wants a chance to beat that score--and he does! Sometimes a little friendly (or brotherly) competition is all we need to really test our limits.
A few of us are lucky enough to go watch the announcement of this workout in Santa Cruz. We get the chance to see up close the best of the best go head to head. Seeing the crowd and the venue make me realize just how much CrossFit has grown in the last few years. Seeing the athletes reminds me how great this sport is, and how lucky I am to be a part of it all, to watch our growing community face their fears, push themselves to new levels, and gain not only strength but confidence. GRCF has been open less than a year, and we had 33 people participate in the open this year. We couldn't be more proud of everyone's hard work and dedication. Way to go Team Grassroots CrossFit!