Another CrossFit Open is in the books, and once again, I was glad to throw my hat into the ring. Every year, more people around the world enter and compete in the Open and that is a positive trend, especially here in West Virginia, where we often rank high for our low health standards.
It was a good Open for me personally. I enjoy the buzz, camaraderie and challenge. I witnessed tears and sweat, frustration and jubilation, and new athletes fighting for each rep as well as strong and efficient human machines at their most impressive. I am inspired by all of them. I watched several folks new to the sport this year fight to complete the scaled version of the prescribed (RX) workouts — and it reminded me of how far I’ve come. On the flipside, I also got to watch some of my favorite athletic friends slay the difficult RX workouts. It may sound sappy, but these moments bring me to tears — as well as my own personal fight and ability to prevail. It’s my own little Olympics, baby — and as close to the Wide World of Sports I’ll ever get, where you witness the thrill of victory...and the agony of defeat...and the human drama of athletic competition.
I competed in my first Open in 2014 and it was an amazing experience. I ended three slots away from making the regionals cut. In hindsight, I wish I’d worked a little harder and earned my spot. In 2015, I couldn’t compete due to injury. In 2016, I was able to participate in scaled versions of the workouts, but I was still not back to fighting form. This year, I was able to complete three of the five workouts RX and did two scaled.
The first workout, 17.1, I did RX. It involved dumbbell snatches and burpee box jumps. I hadn’t done any box jumps, only step-ups, for the past two years so I went very slowly but managed fine. The 35# dumbbell weight was dang heavy to snatch, but I was up to the challenge. I scored in the top quarter worldwide, in the US and regionally.
17.2 I also did RX. It involved weighted lunges, toes-to-bar, cleans and bar muscle-ups. I didn’t make it to the last element within the time cap, but I can’t do those MUs yet anyway! Definitely a zesty workout and I was proud of my performance. I scored even higher but still in the top quarter worldwide, in the US and regionally.
17.3 I performed scaled, which called for jumping bar-over-chin pull-ups and snatch squats. I was disappointed I could not do the RX because I lost the ability to do chest-to-bar pull-ups after my injury (and they haven’t yet returned) and I had never done a squat snatch; doing it at such heavy weights for the first time seemed like a bad idea. This was not my best event physically, but I did my best and that is satisfying. Scored in the top third but I am unable to compare to only scaled scores since I was already in the RX category.
17.4 was one I could have done RX but my back was hurting, so I opted to do the scaled version. This was a repeat workout from a previous Open so it did allow me to see if I could best my score (which I did by 19 reps). The workout was 55 deadlifts, wallballs, calorie row and hand-release push-ups. I made it to the last category over half way through. Maybe it’s true that as you get older, you get better! I will definitely be doing the RX version in a few months to see how far I get. I scored in the top half, but was unable to compare to only scaled scores since I was already in the RX category.
17.5, the last workout, I also performed RX. It was 10 rounds in 40 minutes or less of 9 thrusters at 65 pounds and 35 double-unders (jump rope). This workout was deceptively hard — a real gasser. I struggled to keep my breath, as did almost everyone I watched. We looked like dying fish! That said, it was my best event in terms of score (86th in the MidAtlantic!) and I felt so proud for finishing it when I really wanted to punt about half way through.
Here are my standings overall for my class (women 50-54). Not too shabby!
1,268 worldwide (out of 5,000+)
893 in USA (out of 3,750+)
131 in MidAtlantic (out of 450+)
5 in WV (out of 11)
17 at my gym (out of 47, all classes)
Until next year, keep on finding ways to move that you love, and fight for your health. I plan to be in the CrossFit Open when I’m 95 (and maybe by then, I’ll make it to the Games)!
As youth sports have progressed to the specialized, advanced levels of today, I’m pretty sure parents’ hopes and expectations have ramped up right alongside them.
I’m the parent of an athlete and I’m guilty.
I can remember watching my son’s first attempts at baseball and also basketball. During those early years, other parents and I shared many laughs as we watched our kids attempt new skills — chock full of awkward moments, falls, fails and an abundance of cuteness. At that point, I doubt any of us thought much about their future in sports. It was about learning basics and fundamentals.
As they advanced through the ranks of midget leagues and little leagues, we bought whatever equipment they needed and made sure they got to practices and games. We photographed their achievements and beamed with pride as they made all-star teams and amassed trophies.
The competition increased as they aged, and we could see which kids had talent, who worked hard, and discern those with heart. In my case, I could see the belief in my son’s eyes when he uttered the words, “I want to play in the major leagues” and chose catcher because, it was “the fastest way to the bigs.”
As his experience grew as a baseball player, so did his ability. I loved watching him play as much as he loved the game. I logged many hours in cold, rain, wind and blistering sun. Being there showed my support, and the more I saw, the more I believed maybe he was big enough for that gargantuan dream after all. His dream became my dream.
There were heartbreaks along the way. Lots of them. There is crying in baseball, just as there is in all sports. Tears happen for the passionate and youth sports has it all: drama, sacrifice, elation, hardships, big plays, unfairness and lucky breaks.
There were also memories for the history books: big wins, grand slams, hard fought victories, good teams, and coaches who were perfect for that period in my kid’s life.
As my kid progressed, we searched for tools to help him advance: clinics, travel teams, special tournaments, better equipment, anything within reason. But in the year-round, specialized sports environment, it was a challenge. How far were we willing to travel? How much were we willing to spend? To what lengths were we willing to go to help him succeed?
Not to mention, was he still enjoying this? Did he want to spend his free time doing only this sport? Was this smart or crazy? If he makes the MLB, then smart. If he doesn’t, will he have any regrets?
Big dreams have a price, but they are exciting and compelling. My son is still in the fight for his dream, and how it ends up will be anyone’s guess.
Right now, I’m thinking about how I, like other parents, are feeling that excitement and stress over our kid’s athletic season. There is a hope that exists with each new season for athletes and parents. The athlete has done whatever work they can to prepare. They hope for the starting spot. They pray for greatness. They dream of being all they can be and making a solid contribution.
No kid wants to “ride the pine.” They all dream of being a starter. But as hard as it is for kids to accept when they don’t get those coveted spots, the parents also struggle to understand and comprehend those decisions. In our hearts, our kids are deserving. Anything else is an insult, a travesty, a heartbreak. I can fault no parent for thinking their kid is the best.
Sometimes our kids have a great season and others, they fall short. No one is perfect. As parents, we are there for it all. We hold our breath when it’s our kid’s turn to make a clutch play and we exhale when it goes well. We are there afterwards to give congratulatory or consolation hugs — and whatever appraisal we can to help them succeed. We are always in their corner and looking at the bigger picture.
Some kids quit sports or give up on their dream. Some continue to fight for it. Only a smattering will advance, the field getting narrower the older they get.
As parents, we have no way of knowing how a kid’s athletic efforts will end, just that for most, it will before their aspirations are fully realized. That heartbreak is a bit gut-wrenching but in the larger scheme, we know life is filled with many dreams — and theirs for the taking. So we may shed a few tears, but the final score is really about what kind of young men and women they’ve become. And if we’ve done our jobs, then we’ll be ready if the fat lady sings.
This column appeared in The Journal on Sunday, March 12, 2017.
A collection of columns, articles and general a-musings.