What the CrossFit Open Games Taught Me

First of all, I didn’t register nor officially compete in the CrossFit Games. I probably should have registered, as I was present for each Open workout, and I could have added a few Rx’d reps to the team’s score, I suppose.

That’s all hindsight for now, however. Let’s recap what my first experience with the Open turned up.

1. We’re all humanThere are some crazy-strong people out there, y’all. But CrossFit HQ also had a crazy way of reminding everyone that everyone has room to improve. That was especially cool to a newbie like me. Even the fittest of the fit broke sweats, grimaced, collapsed to the ground at the end, etc. Even when those big numbers posted, there was a lot of humble acceptance of praise. And the other thing I noticed is that it gave people more to strive for. No matter what those goals are, this helped set new ones for me–and I know it helped others set goals for themselves. That’s pretty rad.

2. Butterflies still exist. I get really nervous about two things: 1. talking to a guy I find attractive; and 2. performance. I don’t think I walked into a single Open WOD without the same feeling I used to get right before a big competition dance number or cheer try-outs or the closing number at the end-of-the-year recital. Although I wasn’t running through a million eight-counts of rehearsed choreography, the principal was the same: I have trained for this moment, but there’s no way of knowing how it will go until it’s over. As I said during one particularly intimidating workout, as the timer counted down, “See you on the other side.”

It’s amazing just how much I’ve missed that rush. I’ve missed that chance to flip a switch and just be on, especially for the short workouts–just like the short numbers I was used to. You only have so much time to execute everything, and the world (or so it feels like) is watching.

Is there a better feeling? Maybe not for me.

3. There isn’t shame in trying. In fact, there’s respect to be found in trying. I was out of town a bit during the Open, and I actually had to attempt my first Open WOD at a Las Vegas box. I had luckily gone several days earlier, and I had at least one newly-friend who would cheer me on as I slogged through my first set of burpees. At the end of 13.1, even though I had loaded my bar wrong for the second set of snatches, I had PR’d multiple times. I had PR’d multiple times at a gym that wasn’t my regular haunt with multiple people telling me, “C’mon, girl! You GOT this!”

And so it went through the next Open WODs. There was at least one time when I got the very lowest score out of everyone who did the workout at my gym. There were, however, more times that I remember being able to put “Rx” next to my scores. There was even the night that I beat my PR from four days earlier–and put that weight up six times total.

All in all, I came away with a stronger sense of respect for myself. I came away with admiration for all of my teammates and all of my friends who train alongside me (and that includes those who train several hours away). I came away with the goal to compete next year–even if it means finishing 7908th out of, like, 8000 people in the region. I’m going to do it.

That attitude? Well, to sum it up: Coach K said it pretty well:

Yep. Pretty much. (You are welcome to come take me out for drinks, guys. Maybe a whole grilled trout, too.)

I leave you with this, from CrossFit 204:

[…]And that’s where everyone can learn from some of our athletes for whom 135 and 95 lb. were heavy loads indeed. We often cluster around to watch our top athletes put up huge scores as they seem to move the weight with ease, but this week I had the pleasure of judging some inspirational athletes who walked in wondering if 135 or 95 would go up even once. For them, each rep was a max effort at a weight well above a current PR.

Those athletes bent over to grip the bar and didn’t know if it would go up, and those 7 minutes weren’t spent worrying about 80 or 100 reps but rather 1 rep. Each of those athletes gave all he or she had to earn each rep. No multiples, no unbroken sets, no strategic rest, no targeting scores by leaderboard stalking. Just a final number amassed by a series of max efforts with nothing saved for later.

None of those athletes wanted to do the workout again. They spent everything they had, and when I told them their score, they were overjoyed because they knew it represented 100 percent effort. They knew they had earned that score.

(Out of the nine reps I earned on 13.4, six of them came from a 95lb. clean-and-jerk. Maybe someday that will move with ease, but now, I at least know I now have the fortitude to come in and give it 100%.)