Thursday, January 23, 2014

Why I don't feel guilty about not doing the Open...and neither should you.

It's here.  Games season.  Crossfit Christmas.  Men and women have zoned and met-conned and strength progressed themselves into specimens of functional fitness perfection and are ready to hit 5 weeks of WODs that will test their mind, body and will to the limit.  My community of normally sane friends has turned into a group of crazed balls of excited, competitive athletes; and all, age 16 to 65, are waiting for 14.1 to be released on February 27th.  Every single day, a new notice pops up in my Facebook feed, informing me that another friend has signed up for the Open.  And really?  I'm thrilled! I get so excited thinking of the workouts, the PRs, the tears and sweat and community and joy that is the Open and Games season.  And who doesn't love watching Khalipa, Froning, Chan, Clever, LeBlanc-Bazinet, etc crush these workouts?  I'm glued to my computer every week.

Along with that excitement, though, comes a sense of dread.  With every day that goes by, I am asked again and again if I've signed up, yet.  After all, this is my 3rd year of doing Crossfit, and I SHOULD be signing up.  "It's fun!" "It's a way to challenge yourself!" "It's a baseline to see where you stand among all the crossfitters in the world!" And I have to mumble and make excuses as to why I haven't forked over my $20.

Here's the thing.  The Open is not my thing.  Don't misunderstand - I love Crossfit.  Wildly.  I love the heat and joy of the competition.  I drove my teenage girls to Salt Lake City to watch the SW Regionals last year and we were there the minute the doors opened every single day. We screamed and bawled watching Chris Spealler leave his heart on the floor of that gym.   I am at the box every Saturday when my friends all compete; cheering and yelling and sweating, my heart racing and pounding as if I were doing the WOD with them.  I am a master at taking very flattering butt, abs and lats photos.  And sometimes (especially if there is a hang movement of any kind), I have a flash of regret for not signing up.

The answer comes down to what makes Crossfit fun for me and worth investing hours a week for years.  Here's what I love about Crossfit:
1. My coach - Sam Lewis is a mixture of therapist, coach, drill sergeant, comedian, and not a little bit of homeless looking bearded strongman.  He makes me laugh when I want to cry, yells when I'm being a wimp, and generally has made me realize what a tough, capable woman I am with a barbell.
2. My box-mates - This group of people are my best friends.  We are all wildly different in hobbies and abilities, but I've never met a group of more supportive, kind people.  This is most apparent during DU wods where I'm a mess of tears and whip marks.
3. The barbell - this simple piece of equipment has saved my life.  Enough said.
4. The ability to stay in shape and keep a round booty at 40+ years old while having fun and never having to get on a treadmill.  The end.

Here's what stresses me out about Crossfit, but I've learned to make peace with:
1. The stares at me, asking me to write down my time and numbers, which never ever compare or come close to anyone else's.
2. Ranking oneself in a group
3. Being in my 3rd year and still struggling with pull ups, T2B and DUs

Have I mentioned I love Crossfit?  Every day, I'm excited (and scared) to go, but I go and am never sorry that I put my body on the line.  But I decided that in order to maintain that joy, I was going to WOD for my own reasons.  I was not going to compare myself or pay attention to where I fall in the lineup of stellar athletes.  I don't always succeed at this.  There are weeks I want to quit because I'm tired of being last.  Again.  The Open not only revels in this information, it is highlighted in all it's glory every single week online for the world to see.  This is great motivation for many people.  I am not one of these people.

Don't feel sorry for me.  Don't think, "Well, she obviously isn't cut out for Crossfit."  The thing is, Crossfit IS for everyone.  It's for the fat and thin.  It's for the athlete and couch potato.  It's for the genetically gifted and the....clutzy.  It's accessible and scalable and at the core, for anyone willing to show up and do the work.  And in my case, it's for the non-competitive athlete as much as, if not more so, than the competitive.  You see, the competitive person will always find something to excel at - whether sports or work or life.  Crossfit allows people like me, who if not in the gym can usually be found listening to Bach and reading poetry, a little bit of a chance to be a badass.  I can walk through the grocery store, mom of 5 and pushing menopause, knowing I can deadlift more than my bodyweight and do a pull up, I can squat clean and run and throw big barbells over my head.  As long as I know this for myself, I don't need a number on a scoreboard to prove how proud I am of how far I have come.