Yesterday, Saturday, February 16, 2013 I participated in my very first CrossFit competition. The event was put on for Paul Meyer, a Portland police officer, who got injured and who is now bound to a wheelchair.
When I started CrossFit a year ago, I made it clear to anyone who cared to listen, that I was not going to compete in any games… ever. That just wasn’t me. I had seen too many young, fit CrossFit athletes to even consider competing against them. At 37 years old, there was no doubt in my mind, that I’d only make a fool of myself. And who wants that? I never saw myself as an athlete. For most of my life I worked out because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to maintain or lower my weight.
Eating paleo foods made a difference in the way I approached exercise of course. Instead of running like a maniac and killing myself on cardio machines two hours a day, seven days a week, I turned to lifting more weights, and I no longer needed to go to the gym every single day. But even when I started CrossFit and got continuously stronger, I didn’t see myself competing against those super athletes I admired so much. I didn’t measure up.
Over the past year, though, I saw some of my new CrossFit community friends compete. I watched in awe as they gave their very best, regardless of their shape and size. I saw complete strangers, some of them heavy and slow, working hard… knowing even before they started that they would never win… that in fact they might place last.
At an All Women’s Throwdown last September I watched as one younger, heavy set woman, continuously finished last. In her eyes I recognized fierce determination. By the end it was sheer willpower that kept her going, as she was losing strength. She never gave up, and quickly she became my favorite competitor. She was the one who received the most cheers and applause, not because she was a super athlete and CrossFitter, but because she was there, working, fighting, and not giving up.
People like her made me see these competitions in a different light. Maybe I did not need to be an amazing athlete. I didn’t need to be the strongest, the fastest, the fittest… heck, I know I never will be! The fact is, only one person ever is the strongest, fastest, and fittest at each one of these competitions. And even that superstar usually has someone they’re looking up to, someone they feel they can’t measure up to. Because there IS always someone better out there.
When the Paul Meyer Challenge came up, I didn’t hesitate for too long. This competition was small (although 180 athletes is really not very small, right?), and it was the perfect way for me to get my feet wet. But more important, this was for an amazing cause. I had the pleasure of shaking hands with this police officer, who was all smiles all day long. We exchanged a few sentences, and he pointed out several times how grateful and amazed he was at the turnout. 180 people showing up to work out in his honor… and to raise funds for him and his family. He was clearly moved. And so was I. None of these athletes had to be there. There was nothing in it for them. No award, no prize money… As a matter of fact, they paid to be there.
And so I went… and with my two awesome teammates, we worked our way through three excruciating WODs, the first of which I was certain I could not finish, because my lungs were about to burst, and my legs were about to give out. But finish I did… not just the first WOD but all three of them. Nowhere near the fastest or the strongest. We really ranked quite low… I think only 3 or 4 other teams ranked lower than ours. 😉
But I learned that I rock wall balls. I learned that I can do 105lbs deadlifts repeatedly, which after returning to CrossFit after my back injury last year, is a 20lb PR… And I also learned that I suck at burpees even more than I’d like to admit. I recognized my strengths and weaknesses, and I know now what I need to focus on in order to be my very best at the spring garage games, that I signed up for. 🙂
I also learned that being part of something bigger than myself is humbling and powerful. I am grateful for the experience I had. And to think that we raised approximately $10,000 with this event leaves me speechless and happy. To have my health and strength to be able to contribute in a small way, now that is all the reason I need to do it all again.