Let me preface this post by saying that all of the athletes who competed at the OC Throwdown are amazing and we all proved our right to be there either by prior performance or the online qualifier. I mean no disrespect to any athletes when I speak in this post about competing in any certain heats. I learned a lot this weekend about myself as an athlete. It was sparked from something happening that I wasn’t thrilled with and may have affected my end result, but I also think it was good for my growth. When I received the heat sheet prior to the comp I was disappointed to be in the 3rd heat instead of the 5th one with the top girls like Foucher, Valenzuela, Briggs, etc. I strive to be good enough to earn the right to compete alongside these ladies because it brings out the best in me too. After consulting with my coach I asked the directors as to the heat selection and it pretty much came down to they had made a mistake and it was too late to change it. I didn’t want to be a B* about it so I let it go and figured it’d be a good test to have to push myself the first few events (which ended up being 4 out of the 5 events that it actually mattered in).
We started off in the pool on Friday for a swim event. Mind you I’ve only swam a handful of times since the Games so I have a hard time knowing if I’m pushing hard on swimming. 50-90% effort feels all about the same to me until I feel the panic like I need to doggy paddle! Still I tried to push through the 10x25m swim and 45 collective burpees after I knew I was ahead of anyone I could see. I was on the end lane too which didn’t help. I felt good with my effort when I got done and like I had paced it well. Then the last heat blew us out of the water. Get that… Water?! Haha… Oh never mind. I ended up 20th on that one and knew a few things. I HATE swimming, but I need to do it more, it was going to be a hard climb back up the scoreboard the rest of the weekend and I could have gone harder had I known.
The rest of the weekend, with exception for the last event went similarly. I won my heat each time. It taught me I have become an expert at conserving enough energy to tackle the next event if I’m out ahead. I am however, not good at pushing myself to beat people who haven’t gone yet. We had a squat clean and handstand walk into push up WOD that I got done with about a minute faster than the previous best time and got bested by a few seconds by a few of the top girls in the last heat. Then again the same thing happened on the triple Fran we did. I honestly felt like I was setting the time to beat for people and then watching them beat it. It left me uncontrollably wondering the entire weekend if I had been in their heat: would I have smelled the blood in the water, dug deeper, abandoned the security of feeling like I was comfortably at the edge of my safe pace, gone for it and maybe succeeded?
I was so concerned with having enough gas to finish the event and the rest of the comp that I never went hard enough to know for sure I’d gone as hard as I was truly capable of all weekend. I will say this though, in a 3 day comp you can’t destroy yourself on every event. You do have to conserve a little. But you also have to trust in your ability to recover and take risks if you want to realize your full potential. It’s a tricky fine line to walk.
While everyone knows they go harder in a competition, this experience made me realize just how much harder I do go when I have a number to beat or a person right beside me pushing me to cycle faster than them and rest less. That’s the beauty of competition. Pushing your limits. If you get good enough at it you keep a constant bodily awareness and game plan going while simultaneously assessing your ability to stay within the scope of your capacity and catch the people next to you. Sometimes I don’t like the amount of pain it causes me because I forget about the pain until its over and I’m on the ground writhing around and trying to control my shaking hand to sign a score card. That discomfort however is where the magic happens.
Now onto the deeper meaning in all of this. I admittedly don’t think I have come close to going full capacity in the gym on as consistent a basis as I did a couple of years ago. I’ve gotten complacent and comfortable with doing well instead of knowing I did my best. I work out by myself 99% of the time. I constantly try to come up with motivation on the days that it’s not as great through music, quotes, meditation, goal setting, you name it. I push myself against imaginary competitors everyday. Some days I know they beat me, some days I think I may have beat them. Last weekend I realized they actually beat me most of the time and that just doesn’t sit well.
Now what will I do with this knowledge?
Be more honest with myself about my efforts. Not all days are supposed to be 100% but the ones that are, am I giving all I’ve got or just what I’m comfortable giving?
Find training partners to push me. Travel to them when they can’t come to me. I’m already changing my game plan for the season based on my experiences last weekend.
Lastly, I plan to enjoy competing again like I did this past weekend and haven’t for a while, and appreciate the opportunity I’ve been given to do it.
One athlete at the competition, Kevin Ogar did not have the blessing of walking away from the competition like the rest of us. He suffered a severe injury to his spinal cord during the 3rep snatch event. He had surgery today and will not know for sure the results, but prior to he did not have use of his legs due to a complete severe of his spinal cord at T11-T12. I can’t even type that without a sickening feeling for what he and his wife and kids must be going through. Like many other athletes Kevin was not insured, but they are currently raising funds to help with the amount of medical bills he will no doubt incur. If you feel more grateful for your own mobility and are compelled to donate after reading this you can do so here: https://fundly.com/m2/kevin-ogar-s-recovery
Lastly, I’d like to thank my coach CJ Martin for taking me on this year, CrossFit Invictus family for all their support, and Karen Martin for keeping us fed and cared for. Their sea of green is literally like a family and I’m really excited I get to be a part of it this year!
My friend Sheena Hammer and I. Haven’t seen her since we did gymnastics together at Southern Utah University and now we’re competing together again. So cool!