The old computer game, “Where in the World is Carmen SanDiego,” reminds me of my life these days. Other than the fact that she was a detective with a sweet Australian hat and trench coat, interviewing people to solve crimes, that is. I swear I’ll make a post from a state, and by the time I want to make another post I’m in a completely different part of the US, and I’m thinking, well… this is going to be confusing for everyone, and laughing, enjoying the process.
These last two months have rushed past me, so fast that I ended up completely ignoring my birthday because I barely even noticed it was February a couple of days beforehand. All of the sudden I was in an airport and people were blowing up my phone with loving ‘I miss you, Happy Birthday’ texts. To be honest in the last few months it might seem like a vacation, but it was work to keep up with such a demanding schedule. Life happens on the road too, and life was honestly telling me to slow down… whether I chose to hit the brakes or not.
Bringing in the New Year I had been dreaming after the Grid season of the new CrossFit competition season. I would smile to myself looking at 3 competition weekends that me and Kris Clever were the only athletes to even attempt to do, – and know it was going to be FUN! Knowing if training and competing is when I feel most alive, that these three back to back competitions were going to test me to determine my training focuses.
Becky Conzelman, masters athlete of the LA Reign, Ian Berger, coach of the NY Rhinos, and Ken Battison, beast of an athlete from the DC Brawlers and I sealed a team together for the OC Throwdown. Our goal was to WIN and we almost did! As for life happening…. I was training by myself the week before the event and rolled my ankle so bad that I couldn’t do anything but row for a whole week. It hurt to stand, and I was doing everything (seeing my Dr, mobililty, ice, elevation) in my control to get it better in order to not let my team down. When we got together to practice the one-rep max vertical hurdle jump the day before, I wrapped and taped it up as much as possible, and was able to jump without any pain at all. I decided to go into the competition doing whatever we could to win, and I’d tape it up completely for each event, having full confidence it would be ok.
I felt amazing during a few of the events, I jumped over a 46 in. hurdle twice, and almost made it over a 50 in. one! I was a high & triple jumper in high school, and then ran the 400m hurdles in college, so I had basically been waiting my whole life for an event like that, and our team had a BLAST doing it. There was actually a pretty dangerous video that went viral almost immediately after, so it was not a well-planned or tested workout, which was a bummer for OCTD’s already unsafe reputation. My favorite event was the out-door sand pit where we had to sprint–relay pull sleds in our bare feet. It was a RUSH and I still get chills when I think about the dirt spitting everywhere and athletes digging in and leaning forward in pure sprint fashion. Becky led off against Jen Smith, Ian went against Shawn Ramirez, I fought on the same leg with Chyna Cho, and then Ken battled Neal Maddox, taking home the first place finish by only about 2 or 3 seconds. At the end of the third day, we stood on the podium, tying with Neal’s team for 1st place, but because they had more first place finishes they got the 20k purse, and we took 2nd knowing how hard we had to work to get that podium spot.
My first day back, I got the flu, and my mom brought me food in bed because I slept 13 hours trying to kick how sick I was. Another trainingless week happened, deciding at the last minute to still do the Wodapalooza in Miami, Florida. There’s a reason why we called this a “suicidal mission” but I wasn’t going to let anything bring me down I was so insistent on completing it! It reminded me of working at Brick CrossFit a few years ago and committing my brain completely to teaching all 12 CrossFit classes in one day. For no reason at all, I set my mind for it, and was on a mission. No complaining, just put my head down and even though I cut open my thumb on a GHD machine and had to get stitches in the ER after the 6th class, I still went back and taught the rest because when I’m set on a goal- that’s just how my mind works. No one can convince me otherwise.
The atmosphere in Miami this year was one of the best times I’ve had at a competition, ever. The warm sun, the breeze off the ocean right next to the warm-up area, three rotating stages with 1,100 competing athletes, and there were over 10,000 spectators over the course of a weekend. The first of the two events that stand out for me was the ocean swim event that I had been looking forward to for six months. I grew up swimming competitively, and was destined to see how I could stack up with Games competitors in the water! Getting to combo the open water swim with wall balls and L-Sits, it was a workout I would have written for myself if I had programmed!
That afternoon during the Clean Complex, I picked my outfit out beforehand knowing I’d need a reminder … wearing a “JESUS SAVES, BRO” tank. That day I got to represent for the only brand worth representing. I wanted to glorify God and reflect my heart on the outside, so people could see where my strength comes from. After getting a hang power clean PR at 190 lbs, and then being able to do it three more times right after, it fueled me and the crowd full of energy. As the clock ran out and I almost made it to the heaviest barbell, the crowd was electric as they could see my struggle at such a heavy weight, and I jumped around pulling my shirt up so they could read it as people stood up and clapped louder. It was electric, and I’ll never forget that feeling of pride and celebration!
The next competition in line was the East Coast Classic, ECC in Boston. On the flight there, the pilot announced an emergency landing in Kansas City. It was supposed to be a direct flight, and we could hear loud noises coming from below, and the turbulence was hard to bare. The woman next to me was crying because she was scared of crashing, and the guy next to me had headphones in and barely cared. By the time we landed safely we got off the plane and I said to him, “Dude… we’re not in Boston. We’re in Kansas.” He’s like….. “What?” HA, all the chaos of people panicking on the plane and he had no idea. Our flight got canceled as the plane was too unsafe to fly out, and I bought a last minute ticket to reach Boston. By the time I got there I realized how lucky I was to be alive, and honestly barely told anyone because I was still in such deep shock. I spent that weekend not being able to believe I arrived safely, and was distracted by what could have happened, what didn’t, but what almost did.
All the best athletes in our sport were competing individual or team as a show-case of a competition. They said, “it wasn’t a test of fitness” meaning it was only a 1-day with three events that were meant to “awe” the spectators – and that they did! The craziest thing I experienced was the way they dimmed the lights, and put a spotlight on the weightlifting platform in the middle of the arena. They played club music as women of all different shapes and sizes approached the same bar to have their turn with 205, then 215, then 225, 235, 245, and 250 lbs!! Single elimination, the weight kept going up, and a 17-year old girl got a new unofficial American Record Clean & Jerk at 245 lbs. It was amazing to be apart of, and honestly humbling to see the amount of girls that were able to put up that kind of “guy weight.” It’s not guy weight anymore!
A few days after leaving Boston in a snow storm, I was on a plane to fly halfway around the world to teach CrossFit in Switzerland. I had been anticipating this trip as my first time teaching an AgerBomb Seminar in Europe, and felt honored for the opportunity. Because of the weekend before, getting on a flight going over an ocean only a few days after an emergency landing and tons of freaky research I’d done on my own, was nerve-wracking for me. I broke down to my mom the night before, telling her that my training was suffering, talking about Regionals coming up again, and my heart was tired and I was just… exhausted. I was lonely, which is a weird thing to admit, but my friends and family were at home and I was always gone, and I’d be with strangers. After counting up that I would be spending around 60 hours in a plane seat in 6 weeks, I should have expected a break-down. She comforted me and reminded me why I teach, and reminded me of how it would feel better when I arrived. How lucky a girl I was to even get to travel the world at all. I love her. We caught up on the way to the airport and I told her I would do my bible study most the way to Switzerland to distract me – and that I did. If there’s anything that can clear up some anxiety, it’s being able to study, read, and be in the word for most of a 15-hour flight.
Being picked up by a gym member at the airport in Italy and driven to Switzerland while chatting about the differences between Italians, Swiss, Germans, and Americans was comforting. I still can’t believe how much I learned about history in general just by learning first-hand and spending time with locals. I ate delicious chocolate, had some Italian pizza, and got to enjoy a day walking around the lake and town with my friend that drove down from Germany whom I had met at a competition a few years ago in London.
The seminar itself was a success, and the athletes were hungry to get advice and learn how to prepare for the Open. We ended the last day with doing 14.4 together, and almost everyone PR’d including myself, and it gave me confidence going into the Open season. I had no idea how many different English levels and accents would be gathered in Lugano, Switzerland for the event! I learned so much about language, and even coaching, as I had to use much more demonstration (visual) and tactical (hands on) cues then I’ve ever used. I definitely became a better coach that week, working with all kinds of lifters. There was an Italian coach there that ripped my lifting apart for hours as I tried to do things “perfectly” at very light weight, and he yelled in Italian and I used the members as translators to communicate. He taught me more in a training session about weightlifting then I’d learned in the last half year. Saying goodbye to the beautiful lake with the Swiss Alps jutting out of the water, and to my new “friends” that took me to the local castle to gaze around, was hard but I promised I’d be back someday soon.
A quick weekend at home, and having to get an emergency root canal the morning before I left, (life happening) I was teaching at the Faith RX’d camp in Tampa, Florida. Seeing the athletes build fellowship with each other and share their faith was inspiring beyond measure. I realized as the camp begun that maybe this was my calling, that this was why I was brought into the CrossFit world. Maybe all my work in the last few years was to, as our mission statement says, strengthen the hearts of the fitness community, in Christ-centered living and impact. Not because I am well-versed or even know most the characters in the Bible or could teach a lecture or answer complicated theology questions. But instead because I am learning to ask the right questions, and let the Holy Spirit guide me as I learn to listen and try to relate to believers and non-believers. I can learn from people and tell them about who Jesus is, and put life in perspective for what he’s done for us.
As I sit on another plane back from Florida after teaching my final AgerBomb Seminar before the Open, I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I plan to teach only a few more times before Regionals, and spend most my time training. Next up for me is enjoying the Open workouts that I look forward to every year, and being involved with my community as I do the workouts alongside them. I am anticipating a trip after the Open to teach in Brazil that bought my mom a plane ticket too. For the first time, she’ll get to hear my full testimony at a seminar, see me teach what I love, and travel and use a passport for her first time ever.
As people see the highlight real of our lives, the highs, the mediums, the poetic, the inspiring quotes, I was moved to write a blog where the truth comes out and people could see the “behind the scenes.” Nothing has changed this year about my goals, or my training. I still have my eyes relentlessly set on making it past Regionals in 2015 to the CrossFit Games. I can’t imagine not training for the individual goal of making it, that never seems to fade away or lose fire. Each year my training stays consistent and I get much stronger and better at competing in the sport of fitness, but here’s the thing – so does everyone else. Here’s to growing, learning, and instead of keeping it to ourselves, spreading our knowledge and love for each other to make the world a better place.