Sunday, March 21, 2021

Shifting the Open

Something shifted in me today, at least once I caught my breath and had time-space to feel, sense it... I sit here after a large brunch meal of pulled-pork, eggs, salsa verde, intrigued and curious about this first journey for me into the CrossFit Open.

I’ve formally entered the CrossFit Open this year, though I’ve been an avid CrossFitter since August 2018, not quite three years. For the first two years, it was a time in the gym that felt like it shifted the energies away from what I valued, became more numbers-oriented, competitive. I did the workouts in class, and that was quite sufficient for me. I did enjoy watching and listening to others' enthusiasms about it all, but it was never going to be for me. (Never say never.) Part of it this year was the altered structure--three weeks, not five, I think--and part of it was seeing the wide variety of ‘options’ from ‘equipment-free,’ to ‘Foundations,’ to the more traditional ‘Rx/Scaled’ versions of any workout. I still registered to support the community more than to actually submit scores and such. Wasn’t even sure I’d bother. But there’s something about the challenge and world-wide thing of it that finally caught my attention, my own sense of confidence. After watching the 21.1 festivities that Thursday night, I said to myself Why the hell not? I decided to download the app, follow the Grand Reveals on Thursdays, see what option of workout would make most sense for me.

[There were really funny memes with this image, but I can't find much but this one...:):)]

So far, surprising myself, I’m a Scaled athlete in this mix-up. Me being me, I’m holding open the possibility of Foundations or Equipment Free versions for me for next week, but it’s been a fun challenge to lean into the Scaled version...and succeed in my own mental goals with both. For 21.1, I wanted to at least get to the 21 ‘wall-walks’, and I did. A couple reps over! For 21.2, I wanted to see if I could finish, beat the time-cap. I was fine if I didn’t beat the time cap, as long as I was into the final round of burpees by then. And I finished!!! 19:33 mins, all 225 reps: 20 lb DB and 20” box for the burpee-step-overs. I didn’t even really get that nauseous until the 50 DB snatches, says the athlete who normally refuses to push herself so far as to feel nauseous. As I saw the prospect of finishing was before me, I made an exception this time.

So something in me has shifted in this journey so far. For one, I came up with a strategy for myself to both tend to nerves and keep my initial pace down. I could feel the anticipation/nerves building yesterday, though I don’t really know why. None of this matters that much to me. But my mind was simply active. After hearing many in the gym talk about their experience, coming out of the gate too hot/fast, I elected nasal-breathing for at least the first round, to keep me slow-enough on pace. Step-overs were fun, without the usual mental-game I have with box jumps. I’m a 16” box-jumper, but 20” step-overs were good (once I faced one direction, to alternate legs!). I even stepped into my own strategy-voice by sharing it with a couple CF peeps. I’m usually pretty quiet about ‘how to do this’ kinds of things, at least aloud. The first thing I celebrate here is that I came up with a strategy for myself, and it was a good one. I found it to be so. A CF peep said she found it to be so, after her wko of it. We’ve come a long way, baby!!

Wasn’t conscious of this one til just now, but I also tended my own sense of belonging in a way that connects me in the rest of my life, interests. As a carrot for getting some onerous admin work done yesterday, I experimented with a new recipe by a Dedication-Health (often) Approved guy, Mark Hyman: salted pecan chocolate chip cookies--dairy-free, grain-free. Not only was it relaxing for me, the ‘day-before,’ it was fun to share with anyone who wanted to enjoy such a treat. I do best when I feel connected in a community, and in hindsight now, this was a good way for me to feel as comfortable as I was gonna. Again, we’ve come a long way baby.

The something that’s shifted feels much older than some of these recent learnings, however. I have images wafting into my awareness, not only because of the adrenalin/endorphins: my sixth-grade self at the pull-up bar, ‘failing;’ my 5-6th grade selves having to run the 400m sprint for a school track-and-field, ‘failing’ to succeed-win-finish in a top rank. There were so many opportunities for my youngest self to enjoy her athletic successes--the diving saves at the goal when I was goalie; the tip-over-the-bar save that fractured my wrist but allowed me to move into Sweeper-defense position; the college-soccer-team two-a-days weeks in which I began to shine as a late-blooming college athlete. I have many fond memories of my athletic sensibilities--soccer, runner, cross-trainer--but the ones that feel shifted are the harder ones, the ones I felt shame about…

...because so many who worked with me didn’t know how to frame girls’/women’s athletics that maximized our strengths, our own athletic forms and musculature. There is so much women never knew to share with one another, for one, and appreciating women’s distinctive gifts and strengths was never taught in PE school when I was its student. When I learned you could do a ‘real pull-up’ with a kip, for instance. I can use my child-bearing hips to help my arms?!? I exclaimed to my then personal-trainer, Natalie. “Of course,” she said. I was furious. Why didn’t someone tell me that? Why didn’t Ms. Hill, the PE teacher whom I adored, teach me about that? Because she didn’t know herself, at least to teach it, if her body even knew how. Besides, by the time I met her, she was well over 200 pounds and shorter than I was. PE was about other things than getting a girl to love moving in her own body.

So today I’m feeling strangely vindicated inside. Like I stuck with my desire to move, my love of movement, through a wide, challenging, non-linear learning curve. I was an incredibly active little girl--tom-boy, really--who got immersed in what all adolescent girls seem to--comparatives, shame, self-loathing and more. And I’ve come out the other side, more days than not, at least. What got ingrained at such an early age will always be with me, but it seasons the journey now, it doesn’t shape it. I catch the voices fairly early, most days…

...because I’ve surrounded myself with a community of fitness and health, fun and extraordinary silliness...and discipline, trust, encouragement. I did 150 DB snatches (151, with one no-rep :)) and 75 burpee box-stepovers in 19:33 mins. I have received a witnessed, testifiable promise that I will never have to do that workout again (Melissa’s encouragement to really finish under the timecap! :):):)). And there is a lightness, an openness in me because I leaned into something I wasn’t sure I could ‘do’ and have done it. Already. Regardless of ‘success’ or not in the actual workouts. I believed in myself enough to enter into the challenge of it all. With friends.

Shifting the Open.