Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Games Bound!!!

A most unlikely proposition, but I am bound for the CrossFit Games come August 1st! In a fashion so completely aligned with who I am, I can hardly stop smiling.

Nearly twenty years ago, I learned of an ecumenical Benedictine community in Madison, Wisconsin. One of the sisters who had been a Presbyterian clergywoman (like myself) was touring various seminaries, inviting women to consider joining her at Holy Wisdom Monastery. Lynne Smith, OSB stayed at my home and we planned the worship service on campus together. Ever since, I’ve wanted to find a time to retreat there, or visit for Sunday morning mass, or walk in their arboretum…but way has never really opened. Even with long-drives to Minnesota and back again, to visit family. When Covid arrived, I could join in via YouTube, but it did not scratch the itch.

Fast forward about fifteen years: I joined a CrossFit gym–CrossFit Dedication–close to the United Seminary campus where I teach spirituality, pastoral care, interreligious learning. For years, I never really got into all the hubbub about The Open, nor did I follow any of the social-media silliness of influencers, elite athletes, and the like. But CrossFit changed my life, the relationship I needed with my own body, my relationship with food. This blog became a place for me to integrate all I was learning and celebrate, share, with those interested in reading it.

When my work became more and more online, then Covid changed office/campus cultures even more, I shifted to the gym closer to my home, Bombers. I am blessed to still be able to stretch between both communities, taking advantage of weekend hours with one, and daily early/mid-morning WODs with the other. Anyone close to me today knows CrossFit is my primary community of practice, arguably the largest force for Good in my life right now.

More than church, btw, which for a seminary professor is sayin' somethin'.

My social-media habits changed prior to (then during, after) the 2021 CrossFit Games. Annie Thorisdottir blew back onto the scene, surprisingly (for her) qualifying for the Games after a postpartum year, the birth of their (Annie’s and Frederik Aegidius’s) first child.

She podiumed at third place, living a fierce voice for women becoming mothers, women's unique fitness challenges, responsible health care for women (often beyond the current medical establishment). She represented and aligned with so many of the precise strands liberating me in my own life–“conscious feminine awakening,” advocacy for women’s voices, utter commitment to fitness. I was fascinated, so much so that I kind of “imprinted” like a duckling onto a plane. (Which
is the more appropriate image, after all…me, duckling, her, airborne with an incredible engine).

Which brings us to this season, and the CrossFit Semi-Finals occurring all over the world. It dawned on me that if/when Annie punched her ticket to The Games, it could be one of the last times (if not the last time) she’d compete as an Individual. Or not, but who knows what will happen? The night of the North America West finals' WODS, I said absent-mindedly to my husband, “If/when AnnieT punches her ticket to The Games next weekend, I may just try to get myself there for some of it.” He smiled, nodded, saying, “Sounds perfect.” Quite sweet of him, particularly given his aversion to things Crossfit for himself. His own pastoral work on Sundays already meant it would be just me going, for a whirlwind visit.

This past Sunday night, it became official. Annie Thorisdottir placed second in the European Semi-Final, clearly punching her ticket for The Games in August. I began my quest for any tickets left, understanding that they are often completely sold out by now. I learned you can’t just pay for a day’s ticket either…it’s an August 1-6 ‘event’ or none. I hesitated. Was it worth the hundreds I would pay? Mostly on impulse, I decided to insure I got the ticket, purchased it on the spot. 

It wasn’t until the next day that it dawned on me that The Games are in Madison, Wisconsin


Where Holy Wisdom Monastery is, the place at which I have wanted to retreat for years

I checked the map, and Holy Wisdom is 22 minutes north of the Veteran’s Coliseum (and surrounding areas) where the Games (mostly) take place. I submitted a ‘retreat request’ form and within 4 hours, I landed an economical retreat-room for myself, August 1-7.

Holy Wisdom, Bat-man! I’m goin to the Games!!!!

Not only do I get to do my contemplative-hermit/monk’s heart things for several days (keeping abreast of the Games via YouTube and better camera-angles), but I get to dip into as much of The Games as I want on the weekend! I get to find out when Annie will be where, simply to meet her, take a selfie, be a little fangirl stupid and enjoy the CrossFit community-global crowd. I'll get to bump into people who love this crazy community/sport/practice as much as I do...or actually even MORE.

I can imagine many in my various non-CrossFit and CrossFit circles finding it a little odd, going to the CrossFit Games alone. But it’s actually perfect for someone like me–a bit of a hermit, a writer, an ecumenical Christian, avid Crossfitter, and global-encounter kind of gal.

I love how it all fell into place, beginning with my simply committing to something that I wanted for myself, regardless of how little I’d know how to make it all happen. 

Living into surrender, I’m learning…

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