CrossFit Open: Not the best, not the worst

This is the last post on my CrossFit Open experience this year. Five whole weeks of brutal workouts, new movements, surprises, and a fun and fairly friendly competition between my husband and me. It was our first Open at Cobra Command CrossFit, and the community and coaches have been amazing!

16.1 shocked me. 16.2 annoyed me. 16.3 humbled me. 16.4 singled me out. And 16.5 retested me.

After the past few weeks, we just knew there was going to be a max lift. Everything else seemed to be fairly light and more body weight movements, so it made sense. AND there were two blanks for TWO scores on the score sheets for 16.5. I was already resigned to losing the Open to Bill, since lifting is his thing. I’m not too bad at lifting either, but there’s no way I’m going to beat a 540 lb. deadlift. Even pound for pound strength, Bill wins.

So you can imagine my reaction to this text conversation as Bill is watching the announcement of 16.5:

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Not to humble brag or anything, but burpees aren’t that terrible for me. I’m short enough to the ground that I can literally flop throw my body down without any pain, so I get down there a lot quicker than most. Getting up isn’t too bad for me either, since my legs are five inches long.

That doesn’t mean I liked 16.5. I actually swore I’d never do that God-forsaken WOD again back in 2014. Like, Bill and I skipped class one day when we saw that we were retesting 14.5.

Before I tell you about this year, let me take you back a couple years to the very last week of my very first Open…

…It was the end of March in 2014. I had just gotten my double unders, PR’d my Chest to Bar Pull-ups with three whole reps a couple weeks prior, and learned that a 65 lb. overhead squat was heavy for me. The Open was killing me.

I knew I was good at burpees, and I had done Fran before – in like, 12 minutes – so I knew I could do 65 lb. thrusters. I wasn’t worried about 14.5 at all. I thought I had this one in the bag.

But the day our gym did the WOD together, Bill and I were in Texas at my cousin’s wedding. We got up at the crack of dawn to make the 18 hour drive back home to west Kansas – where CrossFit Colby was having a BBQ/WOD night. We got there as they were about to finish up, and because Bill had to be on the road again the next day, he had to do 14.5 right then.

He did a quick warm up, then the clock started. Eighteen hours of sitting on our butts, drinking tons of coffee, and eating crap food all day long, and Bill attempted 14.5. Thirty-eight minutes and a few dry heaves later, Bill was sprawled out on the floor, having just finished his third and last bar facing burpee.

I waited until the next day to do the WOD. I rested up, ate well, drank lots of water, and mentally prepared to smash it.

I came out hot. A set of 11 thrusters, then a set of 10, and I was on to the burpees. By round two, the exhaustion set in, and I wanted to quit. Sure, I could do Fran, but that’s a 21-15-9 rep scheme. This was 21-18-15-12-9-6-3 rep scheme – that’s 39 more thrusters! About seventeen minutes into the WOD, I heard my judge yelling for me to get up – apparently I blacked out fell asleep mid-burpee. I finished with a time of 18:40 – and while I was disappointed with my time, I knew I wasn’t going to retest that beast.

So flash forward two years. On the way to the gym, I asked Bill what his goal time was for 16.5. He had a lot of margin for improvement, so his goal was to cut at least 10 minutes off his time – actually, he improved by almost 20 minutes! #pastorbill

I wasn’t sure about my margin. Could I have improved enough to get a 15 minute time? I thought that was a pretty audacious goal, but I said it out loud anyway.

I decided to break my reps up differently this time. I remembered how terrible the thrusters became after just the first round, so my rep scheme went like this:

For 21 Thrusters – 3 sets of 7
For 18 Thrusters – 2 sets of 9
For 15 Thrusters – a set of 8 and a set of 7
For 12 Thrusters – 2 sets of 6 (I think…)
For 9 Thrusters – all of em at once
For 6 Thrusters – all of em at once
For 3 Thrusters – all of em at once

Because I broke them up early, I had way more gas in the tank. I kept moving the whole time. Again, my judge was fantastic (same judge every week, except one) – he counted down to pick up the bar, reminded me when to break, and pushed me when I needed it. It still was terrible. I still wanted to quit during round two. I didn’t fall asleep mid-burpee, though.

I finished in 13:20.

Thirteen minutes and twenty seconds. I’m freaking proud of that, y’all.

Yesterday, this gem showed up on my Facebook Memories:

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I remember I was so proud of my worldwide finish two years ago. I don’t remember how many women competed, but 22,340th was MY number. MY place. And while I wasn’t the best, I wasn’t the worst.

And this year, again, I’m proud of my worldwide and regional finish. It’s MY number. MY place:

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14,998th.

A lot has changed in two years. I’m still not the best, and I’m still not the worst. But I’ve improved. There are days that kill me and days that excite me – just like two years ago – but my lifts have gone up, my posture has improved, I am comfortable being upside down, and 65 lb. overhead squat isn’t heavy for me anymore. I’ve grown – my muscles, my mental game, and my confidence – by continuing to work. In two years, I’ve participated in two competitions other than the Open, and I even placed fifth in one of them. I’ve hit new PRs, accomplished goals, and continue to set new ones.

The proof’s in the pudding. Here’s the difference that work can make:

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You may not see much of a difference, but I do. I don’t have some inspirational story about losing a ton of weight or overcoming the odds with a disability – but I do have a story of consistent growth. Before CrossFit, I never thought I’d ever be able to do a pull-up. I remember the first time I hung on the bar, defeated. I remember my first banded pull-up (and you can bet it was the thickest one they had). I remember my friend and coach Heather forcing me to do a WOD with the thinnest band they had, and I remember my friend and coach Sherri working with me after class until I got three pull-ups in a row. I posted that video all over social media. I remember my first chest-to-bar pull-up, and I remember just two weeks ago attempting (and failing) muscle-ups. I’ve come a long way, and I have a long way to go.

Before CrossFit, I thought women’s lifting consisted of high reps and low weights – like, 10 lb. dumbbells.  I remember the first time I tried to clean 95 lbs, and the bar didn’t move. But then I also remember the first time I did a WOD Rx’d – with a 95 lb clean. I remember the first time I put 95 lbs over my head, and now that’s my warm up weight. Things have changed. I have grown – with the help of my coaches and friends, the community, my husband, and my drive to get better. I’ve come a long way, and I have a long way to go.

But isn’t that life? We were born unable to walk, talk, reason, or wipe our butts. Five years later, we’re doing all of those things (hopefully). Twenty years later, we’re working, building relationships, paying taxes, and teaching other little people to do the same things we once couldn’t do. We’ve got some mileage behind us, and we’ve got some mileage ahead of us. I sure hope I’m a better person next year than I am today, and I BETTER be a better person ten years down the road! We talk about growth and learning as if we stop doing it whenever we’re done with school, but I’m of the belief that the day we stop growing is the day we start dying.

We’re always on a trajectory, whether we like it or not. The question is, what trajectory? What’s the goal?

For Christians, it’s this big fancy word – sanctification. Sanctification simply means being made holy – it’s the process of growing in grace and love. It’s a life-long process that each Christian signs up for when we give our lives to God, whether we like it – or know it – or not.

It’s common for a person to hear things like: “Give your life to Christ, and you will be saved.” People automatically think “being saved” means escaping Hell, but what if we’re “saved” for something more? For holy living, for growth, for being changed and transformed by the love of God to do something great on earth? It’s not like if you say a magic prayer, you’ve arrived.

Being saved is just the beginning. Then comes the journey.

I mean, if you go to one CrossFit class, does that get you to the Games?

I’ve been on a 27 year journey, growing in God’s grace and love. Sometimes the journey shocks me. Sometimes it annoys me. Sometimes it humbles me. Sometimes it singles me out. And sometimes it retests me.

But the whole time, I’m growing. I’m not the best, but I’m not the worst. I’ve come a long way, and I have a long way to go.

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” – 1 Peter 2:2-3

Oh, and by the way, I totally beat Bill in the Open. Muahaha.

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CrossFit Open - Not the Best, Not the Worst

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