Sunday, March 5, 2023

CrossFit Open '23 Closes, Opening...

I sit with the Starbucks’ venti-size Jain-citrus Hot-Tea of Victory this morning: another CrossFit Open is in “the books,” with invitation to be-with, smile, consider, and learn. 

This year, I’m startled by how very differently it ended for me, with a wondering whether I’m simply getting better at the mental game of it all, or whether my intentionality with the practice of CrossFit is paying off in some new ways. Probably a bit of both, I can hear my father say in a silly Stan Freberg voice.

As I have often said, one of the things I value most about this community of practice is its ethos, its “respect for the game, in depth,” to use a phrase from Hugh Heclo. CrossFit pushes me into courage, collegiality, challenge, and repeated failure…within daily/weekly containers that then hold, encourage all who participate into deepening tenacity, even a gentle humility. Not all gyms hold all this well, of course, and each gym does its community-culture differently. But the more I stay in the practices, widening my circles of practice, I see it more and more. With, of course, the human frailties and fragilities that can rub the wrong way too. None of it would feel real or ‘growth-ful’ without that. Having run my own LLC-business venture for nearly ten years, I feel for the affiliate-owners' hearts and challenges...who will probably also be glad when the Open has closed.

CrossFit Open 2023 landed me in a huge celebratory relief. For one, it’s over for another year. I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone, and now I can celebrate that, even ease up a little, for fun. I got three weeks of workouts that pushed my capacities as a scaled athlete, women’s 50-54 category, which resulted in two barbel PR’s! (personal records)

The ‘tests’ Adrian Bozman (left) crafted made space for everyone to participate well into a thorough workout, even if you didn’t have pull-ups (like me) or bar muscle-ups (like many of us). For instance, the final one of 2022 had pull-ups for the scaled wko, early enough in the work that if you didn’t have them, you’d simply spend the workout feeling your failure while trying at the bar. At least, someone with my psychology had a bad experience in it. I almost left with the shame I felt (which was old body history for me, probably age 10). Thankfully, a more seasoned CF friend confronted that voice in my head, insisting I submit the score and be proud of it. Without him, I would not have made it through the shame-fest. In honor of my tenacity, I framed that Open ‘score-sheet,’ symbol of pushing through what feels like failure to me. In contrast this year, there wasn’t one workout that a persistent-attendance athlete couldn’t do all the way through, with a sense of completion, having shown up. I still don’t have pull-ups, but that simply meant my tie-break time was 12 minutes. So credit to Bos, and an appreciative smile. (and an early Boz pic, right, made me smile).

But I also recognize that I am a different athlete this year, than I was last year, than I was the year before… I went into this year’s Open without an expectation that I would have any big pushes or successes. I didn’t imagine I’d get that pull-up. I kept myself steady, curious, wanting to push myself but without attachment to outcome. I’m gentler in my mental games these days. I have also broadened my learning practice community, receiving the benefit of a wide variety of coaching. My body memory for certain movements–particularly with the barbell–is better, stronger, less mental. I’m fortunate to be at a time in my life that I can invest the monies in what I love so very much, offering myself this breadth of resourcing.

All of which really showed up for me in the second and third ‘tests’ of this Open. I smile at my own “slowest burpees in the west” style, so I always just stay with my pace, doing so for the second wko. I knew my 3-rep max for thrusters was 90 lbs. In my head, I wanted to try for 100. My body felt the memory of a power-clean PR the month before–115#--and so I lived into my year-start intention: don’t be afraid of the heavy barbell. And I wasn’t! 105 lbs! I loved that it happened at CFD, so I got to ring the bell there. 

Then the third ‘test’ had the barbell snatch movement that has not been one of my strengths. My one-rep max was 65 lbs. Surrounded by CFD friends, I aimed for getting to the 65# bar in the workout, end of the 6 min. time cap. And I surprised myself, getting through all of them!! All 12 reps, then 3-reps into the 75# barbell!

I struggled to get to sleep that night, so much adrenalin in my system. But I kept the clean-eating plan, just in case the morning... I knew I was going to the Bombers’ throw-down brunch, to cheer folks on, earn points for the yellow-team. But I awoke with a Whoop ‘green recovery’ day, so dressed with possibility of doing the wko again. Ate a performance-bar a couple hours before, just in case. There was space and time in the last heat, so I set myself the goal of getting to the 85# barbell. Having been through the wod the night before, I imagined where I could cut time…so pushed myself harder. I got to the 85# barbell with about 90 seconds to do 6 reps. The first time I got it, I stared at the circle of Bombers’ friends now in a circle cheering me on, exclaiming “I’ve never done that before!” We laughed. At 11:58, I got the sixth rep up in the air. I couldn’t believe it. I LOVED it. One could argue the adrenalin is still in my system this morning, given my activity level and mood. 

So this year’s Open has closed, officially complete tomorrow night at 5 p.m. EST (I think), with scores validated by Wednesday. I love being a part of the widening circles of practice I get to be in right now, both my original gym, CrossFit Dedication, and the newer gym that has offerings fit for my writing work this sabbatical, Bombers CrossFit. I sipped my pear-martini of victory last night, reveling in what it feels like to be in a nearly 54-year old body like this. 

CrossFit ethos, circles of practice, clean-eating (about which CFD offers the best re-orientations), and communities that hold one another in the health-to-fitness path. I’m re-motivated for 100% on-plan eating and seeing what the Spring will bring!

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