This was originally written for Albany Crossfit, posted on 03 November 2011. Find the post here. Also, listen to some reflections on my journey and this blog post from Caleb, Jay, and Murph on their most recent podcast, beginning around 12:00.
A few years back, I was going through old stuff in my bedroom at my parents’ house, and I came across my baby box. I remember looking at my old albums and baby book when I was a kid, and I used to like to read all the cards that my mom got at my baby shower.
But this time was different.
That day, I came across something new—something I hadn’t thought I’d seen before. In the box, I found letters from my mom and my dad to me, their unborn child at the time. In it, they each wrote their hopes and dreams for me. They both wrote that they didn’t care if I was a boy or a girl, but that they hoped I had all ten fingers and toes, and that I was healthy and happy and smart and fulfilled. But I remember reading my dad’s letter, and being exceptionally moved and upset (here I go crying again). In his letter, he said that he hoped that life gave me everything I wanted, and that I was active and healthy, and ran around outside and threw the ball with him. I was moved because it made sense. When I was a kid, my parents tried their darndest to get me to play sports. They took me to little league, they had me try gymnastics and ballet. I hated all of it, and threw a fit until they let me stop.
His letter made me upset because, at that point in my life, I was the furthest from the ideal my father had hoped his child would grow up to be. Yeah, I had smarts and I had all my appendages. But I wasn’t active. I didn’t throw the ball with him or go on bike rides or enjoy being outside. I never had, and it was upsetting because I thought I probably never would.
But it’s funny how life can sneak up and surprise you.
Or, it’s funny how sometimes you can sneak up and surprise yourself.
The start of my journey with Crossfit wasn’t easy. It wasn’t fun, and I can’t say that I thought I would stick with it. Historically, especially with physical activities, when the going got rough, I just quit. But for some reason, I haven’t quit. There are many reasons, and those would be each and every member and coach that has ever taken the time to be friendly, nonjudgmental, and helpful to me.
Think about it. Were you here last November? Do you remember who I was? I was friendly, but really scared, and I had no self-confidence. I wasn’t used to pushing myself, and I was thrilled if I made it to two WODs per week. I was more insecure about the fact that I had to scale movements, than impressed that I finished a workout.
In a million years.
In a billion years.
Did I think…
…I would ever.
Fall Face-Off first came on my radar back in September when Kevin asked me to design the poster. It sounded interesting, and it sounded like something I might enjoy watching or maybe photographing. I remember going to one of the in-houses last year, followed by the crazy CrossFAT Challenge, and I remember having a riotous time, and if Fall Face-Off were even a fraction of that, I knew it wouldn’t disappoint.
But then there was an open invitation from Carissa and Scott for a man and a lady to be on their Fall Face-Off recreational team. Did I want to do it? Ehh…I’ll just make an empty assertion.
Hey, yeah, that sounds fun, I responded to their posting, but if anyone else wants to join, I can be backup. I didn’t want to be the person to slow down the team or lose points because I couldn’t do a movement. But, surprisingly, they welcomed me onto their team with open arms.
The shit was officially scared out of me.
There were a few obstacles I faced before the Face-Off actually came. They were mostly mental. We all had matching tee-shirts. HU$TLA No. 1? Small. HU$TLA No. 2? Small. HU$TLA No. 3? Small (or extra-small). HU$TLA No. 4? Extra-large. Guess which one was mine.
I had to deal with people trying to freak me out by speculating what the WODs would include. (Nonstop running for 25 miles? A thousand burpees between the four, while someone is wearing a weighted vest and doing rope climbs?)
I had to deal with my reeling brain. Did I actually want to go through with it? What if I failed? What if everyone points and laughs at the chick wearing the extra-large shirt, attempting to do thrusters?
But part of me clearly knew that all of this negative self-talk was total bullshit. Because if part of me thought this was actually legit, I wouldn’t have gone through with it.
So, with adrenaline pumping and my stomach turning flips, I showed up at ACF early on Saturday morning. I was full of trepidation.
It felt like forever before they announced WOD 1, and I just about had a heart attack when I found out it was Kalsu. Didn’t we just do this, like, a few weeks ago? Yup. My team debated how we wanted to partner up, because, all negative self-talk aside, I really am very slow at burpees, and whomever was my partner was just going to have to deal with that. (I did, actually, apologize profusely for this weakness, but what else can I do than to simply try my best?) Six rounds of Kalsu never hurt so much or felt so long, but we finished.
WOD 1. Check.
And then, things started to get really, really fun.
Then the floating WOD. Have I ever attended a Strongman class? Uh, no. I had no idea how to even lift up a stone, let alone fling one over a bar.* After a quick tutorial, I started, and it was one of the most awesomely challenging minutes of work I’ve encountered. And now, I’m inspired to go to an actual Strongman class.
Floating WOD. Check.
WOD 2. Check. (A super-fun combo of sit-ups, Russian kettlebell swings (swoon!!), box jumps, and jump rope (double-swoon!!))
Somehow during this WOD, I realize that I have tunnel vision. I’m acutely aware that there are people screaming, that my Weight Watchers leader is watching me from upstairs (no joke), that photos are being taken. The only thing that matters is pushing my teammates through, and pushing myself through, without stopping. After the WOD, Kim runs up to give me a hug, to tell me how great I’m doing, and how proud of me she is. Her excitement is infectious.
WOD 3. Check. (Hell yes, 2,500m group row!) Can you believe that I was actually insistent that I perform the 1k leg? Me neither.
WOD 4. Check. (Heavy lifting—back squats and overhead squats.) We all did great here. Carissa got a freaking crazy PR on her overhead squat, and Scott and TJ were doing some crazy squats, too. Somehow, I pushed through a 10RM back squat at 115#, screaming and crying the entire way.
I had no idea what the hell was going on around me, but I could hear Jay yelling at me in his microphone, and I had to be conscious to open my hips at the top of the squat. I almost failed. Keyword: Almost.
In the end, the HU$TLA$ came in 9th out of 10 recreational teams, ahead of one team that DNF’d. I think a lot of people would be deeply upset by this standing, but I also think I speak for my entire team when I say that none of us are. We came, we worked through our fear, and we FINISHED. We might have finished (almost) last, but we FINISHED. And I am so proud of all of us.
I feel like there are a lot of lessons to be learned from this experience for me: (1) If you finish last, you finish last. At least you tried. (2) Who cares what tee-shirt size you wear? Extra-small or extra-large, we all did pretty awesomely. (3) A good attitude goes a long way. I smiled through my screams, and it wasn’t forced. I participated recreationally, just for that—for fun. And it was. (4) Above all else, community. I have never felt closer to anyone at Crossfit than I did during Fall Face-Off. The camaraderie was amazing, and the performances were inspiring. How lucky was I to be a part of that?
My parents know that I’ve been working my tail off, and they’ve seen the changes. But because they live more than 3,000 miles away, they can’t be here to share in these sorts of milestones with me (that’s where you, my ACF family comes in).
But I feel overwhelmed with joy, not only because I competed and followed through, but because for the first time in my life, I feel like maybe—just maybe—I’ve become the person my dad always hoped I would be. Not just happy and healthy and well-adjusted. But active and strong, and able to ride circles around him on my bike, and take long walks with their dog, and show him a few moves at the gym. I’ve found a new zeal, and I am so happy that I’ve finally become Daddy’s little (badass) girl.
*In retrospect, I realized that the stone I was lifting over and over again is the amount of weight I’ve lost in my year at ACF. It’s crazy to think that a year ago, I was carrying that stone with me everywhere I went.