I’m going to be honest I didn’t plan this to be a 2 part post. However as I got going I realized I had written way too much for people to pay attention to, and that isn’t an attack on any of you. I haven’t written something this long in a long time and I want people to read it.
I’m warning you this blog is about me. But I promise it’s not ALL self indulgence. It’s a bit of a history, some reminiscing, but hopefully setting you all up for something I realized this past weekend and wasn’t prepared for in any way.
I want to go back in time to 2011. This was a peak year for me, which is sad, or nostalgic, not sure. I had been doing CrossFit for a year. This year saw Stacey and our team at CrossFit Fenway both qualify for the CrossFit Games out of the Northeast Regionals. Stacey making the Games wasn’t improbably but the fact that our team did at all is. We weren’t even ranked in the top 20 going into the weekend. They did a “Weekend Update/Prediction” and mentioned every team possible other than us. And we dominated our way to a podium finish, so they can go bang themselves.
The Regionals that year was by far the greatest sporting event and achievement of my life. One might think the Games would be, but Regionals was amazing and we finished an improbable 3 of 35 teams. In the Games we finished 37/39 and one team didn’t even show up. During a workout with double unders which was a 4 person chipper I realized, as our 3rd person in standing next to a teams 4th person in therefore beating us in the workout, was doing alternating single and double unders. Not that there is a problem with that, but at the Games you should be doing double unders. But hey, they beat us, so…
My life went into upheaval right when I got back. I was supposed to open CrossFit Somerville with the owner of CrossFit Fenway but due to some events at the Games and some other personal/moral belief system violations, I decided it wasn’t the partnership I should get into. I was jobless for a week or two, then walked into CrossFit Southie. I begged for a job, they happened to need a coach, so I suddenly was employed.
Where this starts resembling a point is where I mention I was registered for a competition at CrossFit New England for the Saturday after I started working at Southie. 130 or so athletes, 20 or so Regional qualifiers, 2 Games athletes, and probably 20 Southie competitors and 4x as many members going to watch. There was a lot of furor around the new coach who had just come from the Games who was now competing for CFS at this big competition.
I was a month from competing at the Games. I was in pretty decent shape. This competition ended up being massively varied in how it related to my abilities. 2 events in my wheelhouse, and 2 not so much. Varied as in I won 1 of them, came in 3rd in the other on day 1….then came in 60th and 48th in day 2.
Why Day 2 was how it was is what this is all about. But let’s talk about Day 1 because, well, I dominated. I walked out of a competition on Day 1 in 1st place that had 2 Games athletes. Yeah, that happened. What happened in the event I won, however, is what really, really matters.
I remember it like it was yesterday. It was called “The Lark”. After this the owner at Southie tried to nickname me “Lark” due to the fact I won the whole thing by like 30 seconds. 3 Rounds, 17 Power Clean 155/105, 600m run. The thing with the run was it was 300m slightly downhill which means 300m slightly uphill. I was very good at running back then and about as strong as I am now. This was my jam. I jammed the shit out of it. Then was never the same again.
This workout broke me. Not just that day or that weekend, but forever. It BROKE me. When I finished I writhed on the ground mindlessly pounding my head into the pavement thinking it would somehow relieve the pain. I stopped only when my mom broke the barrier to get into the competition zone and stopped me from knocking myself unconscious.
This workout ended me like a Conor McGregor left to a glass jaw. I say this with no exaggeration. I know Coach Stacey will tell you, anyone who I competed with will tell you, that I had a fierce competition mindset back then. I somehow was able to conjure up all the anger I had in myself from failed competitive exploits previously in life, all the anger I had at the world, and put it into doing workouts really fast. I had limits in my skills, mainly gymnastics, but when workouts were good for me I crushed them at rates good enough to qualify for Regionals that year and the year after.
Something about my place in life at the time, or maybe it was just my time, but all of that ability left me during “The Lark” and I’ve never found it again. During the 2nd run I was in a distant 2nd place, about 100 yards behind the 1st place guy in that heat which was a usual perfect spot for me to make a move by the last round. But something happened. I was hurting. Very, very badly. Nothing different, just the usual want to curl up and die you all have been in. Yet instead of grinding my teeth and growling, telling the people watching and cheering to go f**k themselves (my favorite go to for conjuring up anger back then), I for the first time questioned “what the hell am I doing?”. Not just a quick “man this sucks” kind of thing. I’m talking stop running, get in my car, and get to the Nines as soon as possible kind of thinking.
I vividly remember coming into the area where we did our cleans just behind the 1st place guy. I knew I had to do all 17 reps unbroken and knew I absolutely could, then had to run at about a 6:00 mile clip and I would catch him and win the heat. I grabbed the bar and went at it as usual, but the run was a different story.
I remember the guys name in 1st. Aaron Meredith. I came out flying and immediately started thinking about getting in my car again. Still, I coasted about 30 yards behind him going through the 300m downhill. The only thing, and I mean the only thing that kept me from going to my car was was the fact I had just started working at CF Southie and so many members were there watching. I couldn’t embarrass myself like that.
2nd place seemed totally fine through half the run, then I almost by accident passed Aaron 2 and won. I won by 30 seconds. I won the event, and had come in 3rd in the one earlier that day. I finished the day in 1st place of 128 including 17 Regional competitors and 2 Games athletes. Yet before I smashed my head repeatedly into the ground, before my Mom stopped me from knocking myself further into mental incapacitation, I had already given into the refrain in my head that was permanently emblazoned in my brain. That this was the stupidest f**king thing I could possibly do and there was no reason for me to do this to myself anymore. The pain I was in during that entire workout and for the 45 minutes after just wasn’t worth it anymore. Why it happened then and there is because I realized that I was no Stacey Kroon, I was no professional athlete, so win or lose I ended up in the same place. Going home, beaten, broken, and scarred, only a day older and taking longer to recover.
See Day 2 was where it really set in. I actually did give up in the first workout because I just decided doing 40 burpee box jumps was really f**king stupid. The last event I gave up even harder it just had rowing so I almost couldn’t sabotage myself as bad as I wanted. The thing is the part about walking out of there no different win or lose actually was cemented in me after Day 2. If you had told me before that competition that I would have given into the voices in my head, publicly given up in a workout, gone from 1st place and proud to 28th place and nothing, and been fine with it, I would tell you you’re crazy. Still that is exactly what happened.
Yeah I competed a few more times after that but every time with a teammate. I happened to used to be married to one of the best female competitors in the region for a while, and coached/partnered with THE best female in the region for another, so I was able to suck through workouts without the demon in my head that used to drive me and still come out on top. An individual competition though? Not a chance. Never again. Soon that became the same about competing in general.
Over the years I had been able to settle this into the same excuses about age, time in life, and whatever else convinced me I was just past my prime.
Then this past weekend happened.
Yes, this is where I leave you until tomorrow. And yes, this is where this blog gets even more difficult to read due to corniness and sap. But I’ll tell you what, what I saw this past weekend was beyond my understanding. I saw people I work with every day, coach every day, people I thought I knew, blow me away with what they did, each and every one of them.
I leave you for now because I wrote enough, enough about myself, enough about my glory days. Tomorrow is about all of you, not just the ones that competed but all of you that make up our community. It is truly special, and it might have taken a complete mental and physical break 8 years ago for me to really come around to realizing it.
But if it hadn’t hey none of you would be lucky enough to have me now, right?!
3 Squat Clean 135/95
6 CTB Pull-ups
S: 75/55, 6 Jumping Pull-ups + 6 Push-ups
L1: 115/75, 6 Pull-ups + 6 Push-ups
Rx+: 3 Muscle Ups for Pullups AND Push-ups
Core: 5 Rounds
10 Flutter Kicks (each side)
10 Cal AB
5 Goblet Squat 53/35
10 Jumping Pull-ups
1. Strength and WOD
2. E2m for 6 Sets: 2 Front Squat with 3s Pause, heaviest able
3. For Quality
10 TGU 70/53 (5/5)
30 Pistols (alt)
50 Russian Swings
70 GHD Situps