I left Talon’s Easter Throwdown not long after my final WOD. I was sore, tired, sweaty and chafed, and utterly disappointed. The comfortable atmosphere of CrossFitters, time clocks, and chalk had become suffocating and stale. As I threw my bags over my sunburned shoulders, I did a quick shuffle to the door. I needed air. I needed space. I needed some ABBA, Diet Dr Pepper and a good cry.
I placed last. 16th. Out of 16.
The walk to the car was long and my bags seemed so much heavier than they had that morning. I probably should have stayed until the end. My two teammates had done well, one placing 1st in the Men’s Scaled division, and the other placing 6th in her first Rx division competition. But tears were threatening to spill, and I didn’t care to have the mental strength to contain them.
It took me precisely 21.25 hours of reflection to take pride in my loss.
I was washing the car in our driveway the day after the competition. I could feel the previous day’s deadlifts, and my bruised ego. I thought I was better. How could I have done so…bad? With each dunk of my sponge into the cold, soapy water, I became more pissed. I had thought I was doing awesome. Dunk, scrub, dunk, scrub…Until I looked at that stupid scoreboard. Dunk, scrub…I’d been so excited…
I’d started the competition at 9:06am on the Clean Ladder. I love cleans. For a long time, I’d been stuck on 105 lbs, and recently I’d increased to 115 lbs. I really wanted to get the 130 lbs clean. Really wanted it. Like sending-your-coach-Facebook-messages-and-innocently-prodding-for-reassurance wanted it. It was The 130 lbs Clean that I was visualizing while lying in bed the night before the competition. Stepping up to the bar, a confident look on my face, feeling the cold metal, preparing myself for the weight, the shrug, the extension, the victory! If I could nail that clean, that would be enough for me. I would be happy. Forever.
The judge called my name, and I approached the first weight. 85 lbs. Up it went. Then the second weight. 100 lbs. Up it went. 115 lbs. Up, up, up.
And then 130. And. Up. It. Went. Victory. I needed nothing else that day.
The mini-WODs were next and at 11:31am I claimed a mat outside and got ready for double unders and shuttle runs. I needed to complete at least two rounds of 30 DUs and a 40m run. And I did it. I successfully completed a WOD with double unders within the time cap.
Two minutes of rest and we were on to max pull ups in two minutes. I immediately did five unbroken pull ups – the most I’ve ever done unbroken – and managed to do ten more before the two minutes was up. Fifteen pull ups in two minutes…after having completed over 60 double unders. I was on a roll.
Two minutes of rest and we were on the rowers. Five minutes for a 1000m row with max wall balls. My row was strong and just as I thought I was about to die, I hit 1000m and was ready for the wall balls. Except my legs were not. And I only got three.
Regardless of my wall ball fail, I was feeling pretty good about myself. The morning had been successful. I downed a recovery drink, changed out of my dripping clothes and passed the scoreboard. The up-to-the-minute scoreboard. And there I was – all the way down in 14th place.
I did a quick glance around. Did anyone else see this nonsense? How could this be possible? So I waited for the Scaled Women’s scores to come back up. There it was again. I was currently in 14th place. Crap. I felt a teeny tiny ache in my heart. And I thought At least I’m not last.
My first afternoon WOD would present the biggest challenge for me – a three round couplet of running and kettle bells. Although I do it often and actually enjoy it, running is one of my biggest weaknesses. Within minutes I’m gasping for air and it takes a ton of mental strength to keep a steady pace. Kettle bell swings are one of my strengths, so my only hope was to make up the time I would lose during the run with my speedy swings. I started the WOD with trepidation on top of the growing disappointment I had experienced looking at the scoreboard. I ended up hitting the time cap with 14 swings to go. I didn’t finish.
(Note: I learned something important during this WOD. Don’t forget to look at the clock! I think if I had realized how much time was left, I could have finished. It’s my one shoulda woulda coulda of the day)
A visit to my results-driven scoreboard confirmed my suspicion – I was in last place. I tried to recall how I had felt just a few hours earlier after I had cleaned 130 lbs. Or after I had completed two rounds of double unders. No use. I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me?
I stepped outside into the sunlight. The day was perfect. Sun, breeze, the feeling of spring before summer takes hold. I leaned against the building and took a few deep breaths. My husband was coming around 3pm to hang out with me for a bit and watch my final WOD.
“Is there a WOD starting out here?” I heard someone ask behind me. It was Lisa from PaleoWorks, a fellow CrossFitter and one of the people I’m happiest to have met through CrossFit.
“No, just waiting for my husband.” Then, as though I should come clean: “I’m in last place.”
“So?” And she began The List of things I had already said to myself but sounds better when it comes from people you like.
- It’s not about what place you’re in. It’s about doing the best you can.
- You did better than anyone who didn’t sign up to compete.
- Rank doesn’t matter.
- Remember where you were a year ago? Think about how much you’ve improved.
- You should be proud of what you’ve done today.
- Don’t you have one more WOD? It’s not over yet.
And my favorite (in frustration):
7. Suck it up, Buttercup.
Everything Lisa told me was true. And the fact that she cared enough to try to make me feel better actually made me feel better. But it still sucked. And when my husband showed up, I threw my arms around him and started to prepare for my final attack.
Final WOD: 50 air squats, 40 deadlifts at 115 lbs, 30 shoulder to overhead at 65 lbs, 20 handstand pushups (yeah, right. I can do three) or 20 hand release pushups (I’ll take those).
And it was over. I gave up ice cream for the last five weeks for this? Pfffft.
I had not expected to come in last, and I just couldn’t figure out where things had gone so horribly wrong…
…until I was washing the car. And I realized how awesome I am. Holy shit! I added 15 lbs to my clean. I did some awesome pull ups. My row was excellent! I had trained hard, made gains and competed as well as I could. I am awesome.
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.
I had been relentlessly beating myself up for sucking, when the truth was that I had been awesome. I had performed well. It’s just that my competitors had performed better. I did an impromptu Awesome Dance in the middle of the driveway.
My husband asked me that night why I compete, especially when the outcome can be so disappointing. “This is fun for you?” he asked.
Well, yes. It is. Sometimes I don’t get it either. But at the 2014 CrossFit Talon Easter Throwdown, I learned a lot about myself – how to perform under pressure, how to support others when I’m disappointed in my own performance, and the hardest part – seeing where I rank. Because in the long run, you have to know where you’ve started in order to see how far you’ve come – or how far you have to go.
**And a special thank you to Stephanie Kennedy who lent her support all day and took fantastic pictures.