Crying, in CrossFit?

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My team at the Nor’easter Throw-down 

This weekend was probably the first time that I have ever cried in public. I participated in such an inspiring event. Bonfire, with the help of Reebok, hosted a Nor’easter Throw-down. This was my first competition since the CrossFit Games. I wasn’t really sure that I should enter it? I definitely didn’t want to take the spot of any athlete that wanted to compete. I thought that all the athletes at our gym that strived to compete should have a chance to do so. I also didn’t want to upset any other teams by competing with my friends. My friends are pretty good at CrossFit and we could be considered a super-team…  At the same time, this event is dear to my heart. So, I wanted to take part in it in some way. In the end, it was the best of both worlds! I competed with my friends, and we entered four teams of six people.

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Me, having a blast overhead squatting a slosh pipe

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Rach and I flipping a tire

Our athletes did amazing!! I was really proud to see the gymnasts I have coached out there competing again, all of our new members of our gym, and a few veterans to guide the way. I was just so pleased with our community. When I say community, I don’t just mean CrossFit Wicked. I mean the greater community of gyms on the North Shore. We are a big family up here! And, we came out to fundraise for an important cause. This event wasn’t about competition. It was about fundraising for the Mauli Ola Foundation for kids with cystic fibrous.

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CF Wicked team members competing as I cheer them on

When Bryant’s story was being told, I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. The fact that his son was still in the hospital was heart wrenching. I’m even emotional writing this. It’s just incredible what this family has gone through. They are brave, loving, caring, and strong. I can only imagine the emotional rollercoaster they have been on for about a year now. I can only imagine, and even imagining is scary for me. Their newborn baby has been diagnosed with cystic fibrous.

Seeing Kate and Laura, the two young girls that this fundraiser was developed around last year, puts me in awe. They may have cystic fibrous, but you wouldn’t know it. They crossfit!! They surf! They kick butt! They are an inspiration to us all. I wanted to compete for them. I’m sure that the difficulty they face living with cystic fibrous is so much greater then any WOD that I will take on. But, you wouldn’t know it talking to them. You surely wouldn’t know it watching them crossfit!! I have been fortunate enough to coach them.

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Kate and Laura with their Uncle Steve, founder of Bonfire

This weekend was about fun, teamwork, and all of those good things.  But it was about so much more then that! Most importantly, it was a fundraiser for cystic fibrous. It was a way to provide a better life for three children that are stronger then I will ever be. I cried hearing their stories, but I’m not going to continue to worry about these kids. I know if they are affiliated with Bonfire, they are in good hands.

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My team with Doc Franson of Bonfire Health and Bryant of Reebok

Failure: a necessity to success

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A couple of weeks ago, I went waterskiing. The last time I water-skied I was 13 years old. The following year, I fractured my back and was unable to ski. The years that proceeded were a similar scene of me watching from the boat or beach as everyone else skied. I was afraid to injure myself for gymnastics, so I sat out on the fun.

When I decided to give water-skiing a shot again, I had that what-if feeling. What if I fail? What if I can’t get up? You know, that little bit of self-doubt that creeps into your mind. As you can see from the picture above, I couldn’t get up. I wiped out numerous times.  Falling over and over again that weekend motivated me! I watched my mom, my brother, and my family friends ski the lake with ease and thought to myself, I am supposed to one of the fittest on earth? Hmmmm…

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My brother, Jay, making me look silly

This weekend, I got right up! But, the whole experience made me think. When I reflected back on this year, I remember being afraid to try to get to the Games. As much as I hate to admit it, it’s true. In 2011, I had my team to fall back on. This year it was all me.

I’ve seen firsthand how AMAZING our region is. We have some incredible athletes; Heather Bergeron, Mel Ockerby, Lauren Plumey, Jenny Davis, Stacey Kroon, Kelly Steadman and plenty more…. These women are all games veterans. They are REALLY good! I wasn’t quite sure I’d stack up?

After a number of discussions with my friends from CF Wicked and Route 1, I decided I’d give it a shot. I mean what is the worst that could happen? I could FAIL! Ugh, I hate failing. The sport of gymnastics had conditioned me to be perfect. It had conditioned me so much that I was literally afraid to fail!

CrossFit has helped me to realize that failing is okay. It’s not only okay; it’s a necessity to success. Making mistakes and “failing” helps bring us closer to our goals. You have to fail to win. You have to fail over and over again to succeed in almost anything in life.  Every mistake we make brings us that much closer to our dreams. You think I would’ve learned that from all those falls off the beam?

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I am comfortable with failing now. By no means do I like it, but I understand it. And, I don’t mind doing it. I’m fortunate I faced this fear of failure and gave it a shot this year at Regionals. I would’ve missed the opportunity of a lifetime and once again been watching the fun.

I realized that you have to have missed attempts. The knowledge I gained from all those falls is the reason I got up on my first try this weekend. I learned what not to do. I’m still nowhere near as good as my parents. Maybe, someday I’ll be there?

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My mother, Cris, at 54 years young

Figuring out that failing isn’t something to be afraid of and that I didn’t need to be perfect all the time was refreshing. I wish I had truly believed that failing didn’t make me a failure sooner. I missed many opportunities to grow because of my need to be perfect, my self-doubt, and my fear of failure.  I sat on the beach watching life pass me by too many times.

I’m sure some of you have done this in the gym. I’ve seen it happen. You don’t put the extra 20 pounds on the bar because you’re nervous you’ll get buried at the bottom of the squat. What’s the worst that could happen? You realize that you can’t do the extra 20 pounds and find out what your max really is? I know, it’s scary down there and you are thinking what if?

I say this knowing that I have never failed a back squat. I’m as guilty as everyone else and I can back squat 305! But, now I can’t wait to see what my limits really are? I’m going to make it my goal to try to fail in the gym. I won’t be that person sitting on the beach. I’ll be that person in the water giving it my all. You see, even if you fall and fail eventually you will get up. You will attain that goal that you have set, and you will feel so much better about yourself for believing in you!

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Who says?

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Do you know the Selena Gomez song, “Who says you’re not pretty. Who says you’re not beautiful, who says?” I love this song, and I was thinking about it when I decided to post these images. I thought some people might judge these photographs? As I see it, they are art that my mom has developed.

My mom is a photographer, and I’ve been doing photo shoots my entire life. This time it was a little different because I was in my sports bra. I think this was the first time I’ve felt comfortable in my sports bra knowing these pictures were going to be shown to other people. I can’t explain why I’ve never felt comfortable in my leotard or sports bra? They are the just uniforms. 

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As a teen, I never thought I was skinny enough. As an adult, I could never find that perfect outfit that made me look good enough. Why was I so critical of myself? Why did I care so much about what others thought? As long as I am happy with myself then who cares, right? 

Maybe that was the issue? I wasn’t happy with myself for all those years. It’s taken me a long time to accept myself and to accept my body. I don’t think I am alone here. I imagine a number of women have found it to be a long road. This road began around puberty.

I empathize with the youth of today who are concerned what others think of them. At some point in our lives, most of us have worried about whether or not we will be accepted. Will they think I am nice, smart, pretty, etc? Not only do we worry what others will think, but also many of us are critical of ourselves. 

I feel we try to uphold this image that society expects of us. This image is all over the television, magazines, and the web. The image is of a sexy, skinny, pretty, “perfect” woman. We start comparing ourselves to her. We compare ourselves to something that is unrealistic. Come on, you’ve all done it in one way or another. Have you looked in the mirror and wished your thighs were a little smaller, your butt a little rounder, or your stomach a little flatter? Join the club!! 

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Some of you may think that I am beautiful, some of you think I am cute, and some think that I am not attractive at all.  Some of you may love my body, some may think I am too muscular, and some may pick apart the little things that are wrong with me. I used to care so much about your opinions. I really did. I cared to a fault. 

I would have cried when I read that someone thought my legs were too big. A few of the comments I received on my back squat PR would have fed my insecurities. They would have crushed the confidence I gained from performing that squat. What would have devastated me a few years ago I shrug off today.

Now, I choose to care about and put my energy toward the things I can control. I can’t control what others find attractive. The old saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is so true. What one person finds attractive another doesn’t. If I love myself, then I’m happy. I have accepted that my thighs aren’t ever going to be “skinny”. I’m okay with my arms being muscular. And, I know that I’ll never look like Pamela Anderson.

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I realized, most importantly, I have to be happy with who I am. It’s unhealthy to compare myself to anybody else. It’s absurd to let the mass media dictate who is pretty, we are all beautiful. We are all gorgeous in someone’s eyes. Comparing yourself to airbrushed models will just make you crazy! They are airbrushed!! The only person you should be comparing yourself to is you. If there is something you don’t like about your body, work hard to change it. Eventually, when you accept who you are, you will look into the mirror and be content. And, you will be singing in your head, “Who says….”

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Disappointment and Fun

I decided to try this whole blog idea.  I figured it was a great place to put down some of my thoughts and I’d love to hear the thoughts of others.  This post is going to be about my first individual CrossFit Games experience.  It’s something I’ve been thinking about well since I was sitting in the stands watching my competitors.  Honestly, the two words that come to mind are: disappointment and fun. 

I went into the games with the goal of having fun. Sometimes I put too much pressure on myself and don’t enjoy the process.  Well, I decided I wasn’t going to do that. And, I am happy to say I reached that goal. When I was running in Camp Pendleton I was hot and tired but in my mind I was having fun.  I was singing to myself, looking around at the scenery, trying to get a tan, and thinking about how happy I was to be able to partake in such an amazing experience.  I was at Camp Pendleton, a place I would never have gotten to see without CrossFit, a place where true heroes trained. I was honored.

As much “fun” I was having, Camp Pendleton was a trying event. Throughout, I kept telling myself that I could do this. For those of you that don’t know me, endurance is not my strength. There couldn’t have been a workout that I should have dreaded more.  I didn’t dread it though.  For some reason I was looking forward to it.  I wanted to know what I had, what was I made of?  Could I finish it? I really just wanted to finish.

When I crossed the finished line I literally started hyperventilating. I wasn’t sure what was overcoming me?  What was happening? But, all I could think was that I came in last. A few girls passed me in the run and a few when I was on the bike. Those few girls added up to the entire field to me. My goal was to finish it, but the thought of being last after all that work devastated me. I remember seeing Christy Phillips and telling her I think I came in last. I had a lump in my throat and was fighting back tears. The words echoed in my head, last. Being last was like all my worst fears coming out. I was a disappointment. Immediately Christy’s big smile and kind words made me feel better. I shrugged off the disappointment as I went into the Obstacle Course.  Hey, I finished it!

The Obstacle Course was more than FUN.  I loved this event. I did the best ranking-wise at this event, but that isn’t the sole reason I loved it.  I felt like we were a bunch of friends at a playground. I felt like a kid again! No one could’ve practiced for this event and that’s what made it even more special.  It was just a pure test of general fitness. I remember one of the girls saying that and it resonated with me.

Now, I could go through every event and what went right and what went wrong, but the fact of the matter is I came in 32nd.  For me, that isn’t good.  It is a disappointment. When I was leaving the stadium after being cut, my mom put her arm around me and said, “I know what you think, but 32nd in the world, Alicia.  You are 32nd in the entire world!  So many people wish they were in your spot.”  Those words put it in perspective for me. Although I was disappointed in myself, I did what I could.  I made some mistakes, okay I made a lot of mistakes, but I will learn from all of them. And, I know that there are elite Crossfitters that have trained just as hard and missed qualifying.  I was fortunate to have been able to compete among the best women in the world.

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I choose to focus on what I did well. I could talk about how I was hurt going into the games and give all the excuses in the book, but how is that going to make me better? It won’t. I finished every CrossFit workout given to me, not every athlete did.  I think that says something about my ability level.  You throw a workout at me, and I will finish it. I did not DNF anything.  I am pretty proud of that fact.  Of those CrossFit workouts at the Home Depot Center I was in the top 25, I think, in all of them.  Well, except the clean. We won’t get into that!

I couldn’t have asked for an experience where I enjoyed myself more.  I loved every workout that was programmed.  I loved all of the athletes I met. I loved the community of Outlaws, the community of Northeast athletes, and the community of friends and family that followed me out to the games.  I loved the crowd, the judges, and the amazing people that worked on us. I enjoyed every minute of the 2012 CrossFit Games, but yes I am disappointed in myself.  This disappointment will fuel my fire for the year of training ahead and the enjoyment I experienced will too.  I want to go back to the CrossFit Games, and I want to prove to myself that I am better.