The first installment of my Quest for 2013 is a bit lengthy. I assure you that not all entries will be quite like this one. I will continue to post videos and footage of my workouts, as I did last year. I will also incorporate written blogs along the way. Are you ready? Here it goes...
At the beginning of the 2012 CrossFit Games season, I anxiously awaited the day when I could proudly tell my story of overcoming challenges and successfully qualifying for my third consecutive CrossFit Games, while simultaneously opening my own box (CrossFit Chickasaw) and passing my graduate courses in Economics. That day, obviously, did not and will not come. This story was supposed to be a happy and joyous one. You know, the happy-ending, legendary stuff. I already knew this to be true at the time, but surely not all things go as planned. Despite the story that I had delightfully envisioned being better than the one I am about to tell, I will share with you how it all went down.
It all started when I watched “The End” of the 2011 CrossFit Games from the stands, after being cut from the competition and finishing in 17th place overall. I could not help but feel dejected from the cut. I could not seem to escape the feeling of humiliation from my timing-out of the “Killer Cage” and dogsled events. I never wanted to experience that again – that place where I stare at a bar that I cannot pick up or at a sled that I cannot seem to budge. I had such high hopes and expectations for my performance in 2011 after very strong Open and Regional performances. I had finished 10th overall at the 2010 CrossFit Games and made it my goal to finish in the top 5 in 2011. I saw 17th place as a failure. Looking back on it and comparing it to where I sit now, I was shamefully wrong for thinking that. However, I did fall short of my goal, and it was up to me to adjust my training and improve my weaknesses.
I had holes, big holes, in my training and overall ability and I needed help desperately. Subsequently, I turned to CJ Martin of CrossFit Invictus after speaking with Josh Bridges one day when he visited Memphis. Josh had great things to say about CJ and his program and I knew that I could greatly benefit from his expertise. I vividly remember the day I spoke with CJ on Skype. We discussed my current training, future goals, and general purpose. It was incredibly refreshing and relieving to hear his perspective and align with him as my coach. I was confident that this was the exact move that I needed to make in order to chase down my dreams.
December of 2011 was a rough month for not only my training but also my life in general. I decided to pursue a professional dream of opening my own business (affiliate), which caused the relationship with my previous affiliate (also my employer) to sour significantly. After providing a month’s notice of my resignation, I was asked to leave after two days. I packed my belongings and exited, ready to begin the next chapter of my life.
Also that month, I battled constant spats of nausea. Each day I would wake up feeling fine, but would later get a sick feeling that wouldn’t go away. I immediately blamed the stress of training, programming for myself (prior to working with CJ), lack of income, and finals in grad school. After three weeks, I finally went to the doctor suspecting that I had a stomach ulcer. It was Christmas Eve and I felt like total garbage. After two rounds of blood work and an ultrasound of my abdomen, it was pinpointed that I had developed an allergy to eggs. It was hard to believe that, all of the sudden, they made me sick. I regularly ate 3-6 eggs per day. I loved eggs. This was too weird. But, sure enough, when I omitted them from my diet, I didn’t feel sick. Problem solved.
Affiliate-less and income-less, I needed a place to train. Without an income, I couldn’t afford a membership anywhere. I desperately reached out to CrossFit Memphis/Faction Strength and Conditioning to see if they would allow me to not only train there but to also do my own workout program, independent of the classes. Take a minute to think about the implications of this request: A two-time Games competitor who worked at another affiliate in town who is planning to own her own affiliate in the same city approaches you about using your gym to train for the interim for free. Sounds a little crazy, huh? That question is not easily answered, despite how altruistic you perceive yourself to be. After a few discussions, Mike Bledsoe and Doug Larson agreed to let me train there. They were a pivotal part of my rebound back into my new training regimen, as they welcomed me with open arms. I honestly don’t know what I would have done had they not allowed me to workout there. I am forever grateful to the whole crew at Faction for embracing me and supporting my quest for the Games. Additionally, I am extremely proud to say that I developed some really awesome friendships in my six months training there that have surely endured the (previously proven) problematic test of opening my own affiliate in the same city.
Before I made the decision to resign at my previous affiliate, I made sure that I had a decent amount of money saved in the bank. I estimated my monthly expenditures and projected how long that amount would last me as I hurried to open CrossFit Chickasaw. I felt confident that I had about six months worth of reserves and I only needed to slightly decrease my standard of living to make it that long. Yet, the thought of going half a year without making a dime really bothered me. I worried that profits from CrossFit Chickasaw operations would take more than six months, considering our opening date was five months away. Here is where another dear friend of mine stepped in and saved the day (make that year). Angie Foree, owner of Wolf River CrossFit (another box in town), opened her doors in January of 2012. She had a modest space and started with very limited equipment, but she was living her dream too. I desperately approached her about running personal training sessions at her gym so that I could make a few hundred dollars a month. Desperation was certainly a theme for this point in my life. She quickly agreed to let me and asked nothing of me in return. She didn’t want me to pay her a fee for using her facility or share profits. Out of the goodness of her heart, she allowed me to create a small stream of income. This gave a little bit of breathing room with my personal finances. I am forever grateful to her for giving me that opportunity.
On the recovery road, I started with CJ’s program and never looked back. Without a job, I had quite a bit of time on my hands to plan and prepare for the launch of CrossFit Chickasaw. I also decided to document my journey through the 2012 CrossFit Games season via video blogs. I had never done anything like that before, but the thought of having footage of my progress and eventual (then assumed) success story would be really cool. Plus, when I posted my intentions on Facebook, people seemed to really respond to that idea. So, I went with it, documenting my workouts, injuries, quirks, and ranting on a weekly basis. I self-learned some iMovie basics and created my short and very amateur videos. It was well received and I actual established, what I believe to be, a decent following.
After a successful CrossFit Open performance, I was ready for Regionals. I felt pretty confident about the workouts, despite having trouble with the 70lb. dumbbell snatch in practice. I knew the competition would be stiff, but I felt strong and well prepared. CrossFit Chickasaw was slated to open the Friday following the regional competition. The weeks leading up to both events, as competitors and affiliate owners already know through experience, was hectic. There were so many hiccups with trying to get our doors open on May 18, the designated Grand Opening date. Demolition, tile removal, lighting, electricity, HVAC, code enforcement, flooring, equipment delivery and setup… Let’s just say things didn’t go as smoothly as they could have. All these issues required late and laborious nights, even the week of Regionals. I broke down the Tuesday before I left for Columbus. I was stressed to the max and worried that this would negatively impact my performance and possibly interfere with my third consecutive Games qualification. That worry, that feeling that I had in my gut, was… correct.
For me, it was a slow motion train wreck. Event 1 was supposed to be a strong one for me, as I had performed “Diane” in 3:31 with strict handstand pushups weeks prior. I bombed with a 4:11, getting beat by six other competitors. Event 2 was supposed to be a relatively lower finish with the body weight hang cleans and subpar technique, but I managed to finish 7th again. The dumbbell snatch event was just as crappy as I thought it would be. I finished 14th in that event, my worst finish across the weekend. I was excited to have completed the workout in the time cap, as I had not been able to do so in practice. Event 4 was a grinder, and likewise, a strong event for me. I finished in 2nd. Going into Day 3, I knew that I needed a miracle to secure a Games qualification spot. I needed a Spealler-esque PR on snatch, but missed 140 lb., five pounds short of my personal best. After the miss, I had only one event left and eleven points to make up. I came to grips with my reality. 2012 Games were not going to happen for me.
Despite it all, I knew that I could do well in Event 6. Until that point, no female had completed it within the time cap, but I was very confident that I could. It was a very strange situation for me, as I knew my Games were essentially over. I battled with questions like: Do I “go through the motions” and leave Columbus Expo Center with my tail between my legs? Why would I kill myself to simply finish this workout when it will not change the outcome of the weekend? I had plenty of reasons to half-ass the final workout. Luckily, my inner competitor chimed in. I had goals going into this weekend. Qualifying for the Games was obviously at the top of the list; however, finishing Event 6 within the time cap was one as well. No one could take that from me except… me. I was in total control for the first time that entire weekend and I was not going to throw that opportunity away. With my chin held high, I walked on the competition floor and killed Event 6 just like I knew I could. As I finished with arms extended at the top of the last muscle up in 16:38, the entire Central East crowd erupted. It was one of the coolest and most bittersweet moments of my life.
With that performance, I joined only five other women across the world that managed to finish Event 6. After reflecting on the weekend and what all went wrong, I realized that I had achieved another goal of mine – to complete every workout within the time caps given. In 2011, I was haunted by the two events where I timed out. In my Quest for 2012, I set out to get strong enough to not encounter a barbell too heavy or a movement too difficult. I succeeded. I finished every workout written and could not have asked anything more of myself.
Despite my modest achievements, it took me a long time to stop “feeling sorry for myself,” as my college softball coach used to eloquently say. I went through every emotion possible, but I, thankfully, finally got over it. As I prepare to embark on the 2013 season, I have a slightly different approach – put the “fun” back into my CrossFit training. I have a pretty neurotic personality that I constantly have to battle. In the past, if a workout went poorly, I would let that eat away at me. Now, I have learned to shrug it off and move on. It’s been liberating to say the least.
As for CrossFit Chickasaw, well, that’s going great! We have grown very fast and managed to accumulate a kick-ass group of members who make my job enjoyable each day. I love every moment I spend there and am very fortunate to be in such a position. I’ve also got a great support group surrounding me. My family, friends, business partners, training partners, and coach all play a huge role in my success as an athlete. I’ve got one hell of a posse. 2013 is looking bright.