Sunday, January 18, 2015

On Competitions

Yesterday I did my first individual crossfit competition.

Over the past year, I have done four team competitions and I decided it was time to see what it was like to do one on my own.  This particular competition had an intermediate division which was the perfect fit for me.

Let me begin by saying that just because someone is doing a crossfit competition, it does not mean they are rallying for a spot in the CrossFit Games that are shown on ESPN.  Like any other sport, that is the extremely best of the best.  In my 38 years of life, I have competed in many many things, played many sports games, completed three marathons, but have never received the same awed response from people as when I say "I signed up for a crossfit competition".  I am not really sure why that is.

When I signed up, I set a goal to finish in the top 6 so I could make it to finals.  I like to have goals.

It's always awkward when you walk into the room full of complete strangers, all getting ready to do the same competition as you.  I immediately start to eyeball the competition and size them up.  Hint:  This is a big mistake!

Looking around you see all sorts of people, but the one type that always stick out are the gear people.  You know what I'm talking about?  The people who own every piece of equipment and they have it on loud and proud.  I suppose it's some sort of scare tactic- show up with your knee bands, wrist wraps, lifters, weight belt, crossfit shirt with some witty saying, most often tight pants or a shorter than short pair of shorts to show off that muscle, don't forget the obligatory headband, the illustrious shaker bottle full of magical protein in hand to top it off, and the chest up strut with the butt slightly engaged, because they've got muscle!

Sorry I'm not judgy, but it's something that happens when you enter a room full of strangers you're about to compete against, you assess- most often this is a fear tactic.  This can be good or bad.  Bad if you let it sell you short before you even started, that based off looks and equipment ownership, these athletes are better than you.  Good if you just get a good chuckle and move on.

In workout situations, I work best, focusing on myself and no one else.  When I WOD, I do not look at the clock, I do not look at other athletes, I do not move when they move, I do my own thing.  I do not like to know anyone else's times or scores ahead of time because it adds pressure which usually ruins my performance- I do not perform well under pressure.  Through each of my WODs, I paced myself accordingly, fought through fatigue, and just kept moving.  The slight disadvantage for me, was I was in the first heat and the other girls were always aiming to score better than me.

Here is what I have to say- yes, I was competing against them per say, but in the end, as I've mentioned, this was a group of complete strangers who all walked into a room with me to do this competition.  I considered this a test more than anything else to see how I sized up in this level of competition, to see how my body handled multiple workouts in a day, to see how my training had helped me progress, to see how I let my mind take over.  Working with and against other people, and with other people watching,  pushes you harder- that's what I was there for, the push, the challenge, the intensity, and the thrill.

I made the day about me and my goals.  I worked as hard as I could possibly work and then some.  I set a goal to make it to finals and I made it.  I entered finals as the underdog, many many points behind the others and that is when I said to myself that my new goal was the crush the finals.  I never looked to the side the whole entire finals. I just kept moving and repeating to myself that "I have what it takes" and I ended up taking a second place finish in that WOD and not by a little, a LOT.

Let me tell you something, I did not get on the podium, but in my mind I accomplished what I had set out to do.  I showed myself that I can do multiple WODS in a day and feel great, I pushed as hard as I could, I did not give up, and I left knowing there was nothing I would have done differently.

I encourage anyone who is thinking of doing a competition or doing a race to do so.  Remember, it is a test, but it's not a test of this person beating you or that person being stronger than you.  It is a test to show you how your training is coming along, to help you get stronger with your mindset, to push you to work harder, to show you weaknesses, and most importantly for you to HAVE FUN.  At the end of the day if you walk away saying "I did all that I could"- you win!

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