Friday, April 4, 2014

The Open 2014 is in the Books

April 4, 2014

Well, now is as good a time as ever to share my thoughts on the 2014 CrossFit Open. I have been asked about my thoughts, read other peoples articles and listened to other peoples thoughts/complaints through all 5 weeks of the open as well as after the last workout was posted. Now it is time to put my half answers and random thoughts into some sort of order.  

This year was extremely inspirational and at the same time extremely challenging for me. There are so many factors that had my emotions pulling in every direction imaginable. It took a lot of deep thoughts, talking strength and courage into myself and remembering why I do “all of this” on a daily basis to keep my head in the game and my confidence high enough to move forward.

The Open is such a motivational time of year. During a mere 5 weeks, its amazing how many people find something in themselves that they never knew existed. What is even more amazing is to actually witness it happening to them, or actually being the one its happening to! Some people dig deep, they get to a place that they have never pushed themselves to… some people experience their first “competition style” workout… some complete one rep of one movement that they couldn’t do just one day before. There are tears of frustration, anger and pain… but also many many tears of joy. For every disappointment there are 10 smiles and personal goals achieved. Every high five, sweat stained floor, ripped hand and sore muscle contains a piece of someone’s 2014 Open story, a victory, big or small.

I have to be honest, when I saw the hundreds of complaints that flooded the CrossFit Games website after the first workout of The Open was announced, a “simple” couplet of double unders and snatches, I was shocked. I continued to be shocked week after week after each announcement when people would find anything and everything to complain about… the reasons why it was a “bad” workout for The Open, or how so many people CAN’T do something in the workout.

Wait a minute… isn’t “CAN’T” the word that we as CrossFitters are not allowed to have in our vocabulary? Don’t we coach every single person who walks through the door of a CrossFit gym that they are going to be able to do things that they never thought possible and they should never use the word “CAN’T” again.  They should leave the negativity at the door and they should at least try something first before saying that they “CAN’T” do it?! What happened here? Why are “we” all of a sudden a bunch of people who complain about a workout?

At CFW, I can say that I didn’t hear many complaints. I did hear people concerned that they weren’t going to do well… maybe they were insecure that they “don’t have double unders” or “never did a chest to bar before.” These reactions are common, usual and appropriate… first because they did not contain the word “cant” but, mostly because they were followed with encouragement by someone who might have been in their shoes at one point. I know I shared the story of how I got my first chest to bar pullup just a day before I had to do 12.5 during my first Open in 2012. Of course I was terrified when that workout was announced… I barely had a pullup without a band at that point… but my coaches and my friends were encouraging and supportive.  Isnt that what CrossFit is all about?!

I was so excited to see the looks on people’s faces when they did conquer their insecurities, when they let go of their fears of things they could never do before. There were many who got their first double unders, or strung together a few for the first time, some who never put 65lbs over their head before for an OH Squat, some who finally got that first box jump to a 20” box, deadlifted 225,  or just made it through 14.5. Because those workouts were so challenging, so many people were challenged to do that thing we talk about all the time… they were forced to “get comfortable being uncomfortable.” They were able to turn the “Ive never” into their very own story of how they got their first during The Open 2014… how cool is that?!

For me, personally, my comfort zone was stretched in a lot of different directions. I had my moments of fear, anxiety and insecurity… but I also had my moments of pride, confidence and hope. I cried my own frustration tears, I cried my tears of pain… but what I remember most and what I will bring forward in my training are my happy tears. Those moments where I dug deep and did what I knew I could do, where I wouldn’t allow my brain to let my body stop. Those moments where I was inspired by the “firsts” happening around making me remember I had more “firsts” in my future as well. Those moments when I laid on the floor completely spent after the time had expired or when I completed the work to make the clock stop… where I thought to myself, “yes… that is why you do ‘all of this.” That feeling, that emotion… I cannot explain it, I can only feel it.

Keep pushing, don’t give up… you will feel it and you will never want to stop feeling it.

The Open 2014 is in the books.   

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

"Sarah... Calm Down!"

March 4, 2014

"Sarah... Calm Down!"

If I had a dollar for every time I heard that phrase come out my mom or dads mouth through not only my childhood, but to this very day, I'd be a very rich woman. I have started to write this in so many different ways to make myself not sound too crazy, but in reality... I kinda am, so here goes. You see, I am a pretty passionate person. *INSERT SHOCKED FACE HERE* There is a level of intensity and pressure that I put on myself in pretty much everything do. I have been this way my entire life (hence my parents using the phrase frequently) and will be this way for the rest of my life... its just the way it is. There have been plenty of things in my life that have deserved getting emotional over however, I occasionally find myself getting worked up over things in life that just dont deserve the time or the emotion. In all cases, worthy or not, I have to try to center myself and remember what my Mom and Dad always say "Sarah... if you just calm down, everything will work out."

I'd like to think I hide it well... but I'm not fooling anyone. At least not all the time. In most cases I have learned to curb actual "freak out"... control it somewhat. In other cases, I hide it on the outside than perform the "freak out" behind closed doors (or on the phone with one of my parents). However, in actuality, because I am such an emotional person... I am so very easy to read. The tension, stress, pressure, whatever you want to call it, is clear in my body language, my voice and most certainly all over my face.

This is my reflection of 14.1:
The pep talk I had with myself on Friday morning at 5:30am while I was getting ready to WOD went something like this... "Sarah, you need to calm the eff down. Get your shit together and do this. You know you can. Don't get frazzeled when you trip, just keep going and for the love of god, you better do every one of those snatches unbroken." I was so friggin tight just thinking about the 30 double unders that I have tripped up 500,000 times over the last 2.5 years of crossfitting I couldnt even see straight. My heart was racing, my BP was up... I was about to do the first workout of the 2014 Open. I have been CrossFitting for 2.5 years and I still have a freaking panic attack when I see double unders in a workout. What the eff.

So, I dont think I need to explain that it wasnt the best attempt. SP was my judge and she was trying her best to keep me calm and moving through the workout. The biggest issue with this whole "tense" thing is that double unders are nearly impossible when you are too tense. You have to be loose and you have to be CALM. Yeah... not so much. At the end of the WOD I was shy of my goal but realized some very important things... the more tired I got, the less tense I was and the more dubs I strung together. What do you know?! The more I released the tension (because I was too damn tired) things got better. "Sarah... if you just calm down, everything will work out."

I thought about that. In fact I probably over thought about that... When I entered the gym Sunday for a repeat 14.1 I was ready. I was much more relaxed, asked SP to judge me again and she even commented that I looked a lot more "ready" to go. I told her I was calm and I was ready. I had thought a lot about what this re-do meant to me. It was for me. It was to prove to myself that if I just calm down, do my best, push the hardest I can... I can do it. My pep talk went a lot different with myself in the seconds before the beep... "Sarah, you've got this. This is for you. Breathe, center yourself, keep calm, work hard and get shit done.You know you can. If you just keep calm, everything will work out."

The result. Well, aside from the fact that I got 41 more reps... when I finished, I finished with a SMILE... FROM LAYING PANTING ON THE GROUND, BUT A SMILE NON THE LESS. I had strung together far more dubs than I did the first attempt and just overall felt amazing. I felt like I gave it everything I had, pushed to the last second and didnt let those damn double unders get the best of me.

I am hopeful that I am going to approach the rest of the Open workouts with a new attitude. I need to let go of the stress and tension (at least some of it... a little stress and pressure is good for competition). I need to keep relaxed and be confident in the skills that I have. Most of all... I need to remember... "Sarah... if you just calm down, everything will work out."

I also have to take a moment to say how ridiculously proud I am of all the athletes out there whether you are a CrossFit Wachusett athlete or not... watching and hearing all the success stories from 14.1 is amazing! Every single person who went into the workout and got their first or 30th double under. Even if you just tried and tried and tried for 10 minutes to just to get closer to getting a double under... you are awesome! You are inspirational and I commend you for not giving up. For not being the person who said "I cant do that" or "what a waste of $20," when the WOD came out... believe in yourself (keep calm) and get in there and get some! There is a lot more left in the 2014 Open!

Onward to 14.2. We shall see what the CrossFit Gods come up with this time! 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Open is Upon Us

February 27, 2014

Take a deep breath, relax and wait... wait for 8:00pm EST.

Currently, close to 170,000 CrossFitters world wide area "patiently" awaiting the release of 14.1, the first of the 5 workouts in the 2014 CrossFit Open (in case you are new here I wrote THIS post in 2012, on the first day of my first Open, at the beginning it describes what the Open is). I have been thinking a lot about the Open this year. Where I am. How I feel. What is to come. This year feels... I dont know... different from last.

I guess that is to be expected. Another year has passed. I am a different person than I was 356 days ago. I do not know what the outcome is going to be. I do not know if I am going to perform better or worse than I did last year. I do not know what the first workout is going to be, or how many times I will attempt it. I do not know if at the end of all this there will be a seat at the Northeast Regional for either Me or CrossFit Wachusett... or both.

But, enough about what I dont know... here is what I know...

I KNOW that I have put in the work, training harder, longer and with more volume than last year.
I KNOW that I have worked on my goats and have become more confident with those skills.
I KNOW that I have pushed myself to places I didn't think possible and will continue to do so every day.
I KNOW that I have changed my diet and lifestyle significantly to improve my training and build strength and endurance.
I KNOW that I have a team behind me to support me and CFW in achieving what we are meant to achieve.
I KNOW that I will be inspired by all of the CFW athletes who are competing in the Open this year for the first, second, third time.
I KNOW that I will cheer loud and lose my voice encouraging my friends to push beyond their limits.
I KNOW that this is me against myself and although I am competing against some 85,000 women, it is the me of yesterday that I am essentially competing with.
I KNOW that I will cry.
I KNOW that I will smile.
I KNOW that it will hurt.
I KNOW that I will lay it all on the line.
I KNOW that I will do the best that I can possibly do.
I KNOW that I will have fun.

... most of all

Good luck to everyone competing in the 2014 CrossFit Open. Such an amazing time in the CrossFit community worldwide. We all come together and fill the air with the most amazing energy. There is no better feeling. Remember to have fun, work hard and keep a positive attitude! 

Sunday, February 9, 2014


February 9, 2014

Time. It dosent stand still. With every passing second we get older, we move further in life. We change. We grow. We enter the future. Today, February 9, 2014... is the only February 9, 2014 we will ever have in our lifetime. That is a scary thought. What we do with today? Each and every "today" is so important, so precious and its gone, just like that. Suddenly its time to put our head to the pillow and end "today." If we wish it away, waste it, whats the point?

My biggest fear in life is failure. Failing others expectations of me, yes, but failing myself overtakes my thoughts more often than I want to admit, almost daily. I know when I do it or when I am on the road to doing it, which frustrates the hell out of me. Sometimes I reach a certain point and think, "I could have totally avoided this had I just done it in the first place." The "it" being whatever it is that I have failed myself in doing.

Over the last two years a lot has changed in me. In my mind, in my body and in my soul. I have really searched for the things that make me truly happy in life. I have begun to identify them and strive for them, its about damn time, I am 33 years old for god sakes. It was time to get to a point in life where I was truly happy on the inside, not just for show. I have given up some things that have proven themselves to be toxic in my pursuit of happiness, clutched on to others that make me feel fantastic on the inside and surround myself with the people who brighten my life. I am searching for and finding the things that were either missing completely or missing in plain sight.

I am pushing myself to my limits, however, I am afraid in some cases I may have pushed myself too far. Put pressure on things that dont deserve the pressure, or worse, dont need the pressure to just be what they are. When are things "good enough?" Or, is anything just "good enough?" Can it always be better? Am I creating more failure in my life by thinking that there is always something better to strive for? Should I just be happy with "today" or, when I put my head to the pillow should I hope that tomorrow's "today" is better?

The worst case is when I am forced to fail at one thing to allow myself to succeed with/in something else. When its impossible to have both. Inevitably, I am going to be disappointed. Not in whatever it is that I am "failing" at, but with myself. That I had to let something go. I am going to be pissed at myself because I missed something in life I really wanted to have, just because I was afraid of failing at something else... Where do you find that balance? When is is ok to give up on something you have always wanted? Which of the two do you give up on? When is it ok to fail when you have instilled in yourself that failure, in fact, is not an option?

Today is the only "today" that I have. If I spend too much time thinking about it, I am going to miss it. If I dont spend enough time thinking about it, I may put my head on my pillow wishing it was different, that I know it could have been different, that I had total control over how my day was going to go (to an extent of course) and I did nothing about it.  Its one of the reasons I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I dont like to hold back, I dont like to bite my tongue. I like to address anything that pops into my brain so I dont have to carry it day after day. I like to push towards my goals every single day knowing when I go to sleep at night I did everything I could to make today the best day it could be, to make today a success. To make tomorrow a success. If I dont do these things, I am failing.

Part of me wishes I was the type of person who could just live. Just be happy. Just be thankful for all that I have. Content. The rest of me, the most of me, knows I could never be happy, could never be successful  just being content.

Today is February 9, 2014. Its the only one Ive got.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Apparently I like to Surf...

February 7, 2014

Whoops, its been a while since I have written again. In being 100% honest, I have thought of things I have wanted to write about when they have happened, but I didnt get myself in front of the computer to get those thoughts down. I wrote a whole blog in my brain last Saturday on my way to the gym... I even spoke the words out loud to myself while I was driving. Hubs and I went to dinner Saturday night, I told him all about it, we discussed it at length. Than Sunday I met up with my mom, I talked it out with her. I felt like I had exhausted the subject and didnt get a chance to write it all down. Today, I write not about that, but about something that inspired me to write today. Maybe I will look back and write about the previous topic... but just know, my mind is constantly thinking of these things.

I have had a lot going on lately. There has been a lot going on at the gym, a lot going on at work and a lot going on at home. I was starting to feel like I was getting a little overwhelmed in my life. One of my biggest problems, I still cant seem to get a grip on, is that I internalize everything, take far to many things personally. With my passion comes worry, sometimes fear, maybe some pressure and a lot of anxiety. I internalize and overthink pretty much... everything.

When I have a lot on my mind I have problems sleeping. This happens a lot. Actually, I am glad that I have this silly trait. Why, you ask? If I had no problem sleeping when I had things on my mind, I wouldnt be forced to get those things out in the air, on paper or wherever they need to be. The would sit in my mind and fester. I am not saying that my "problems" are all solved every day before I go to sleep... but if there is something that needs to get out, it is at least talked about, vented about or written about somewhere. This assures me that the "problem" is in the process of being worked out. Nothing will ever be "solved" if it is kept on the inside.

I understand its a process. I know things dont happen or change overnight. However, I am a fighter, who will forge straight into battle with absolutely no plan what-so-ever, just to get to the bottom of it before it turns into a world war. Sometimes that comes back to bite me in the ass, but most of the time... its a step in the right direction.

I am fighting a lot of little battles at the moment. I am wound up pretty tight. I have to really put in the time into those that are worth fighting and more importantly, I have to forget those that aren't worth fighting for. I have to understand that sometimes, you just have to let go. Not everything is a battle.

In the words of my Husband circa 2004... Sarah, you need to just RELAX."

Monday, January 20, 2014

Be Not Afraid of Moving Slowly

January 20, 2014

Ever feel like you are just standing still? That you have all these ideas and goals that you are fighting for in your mind, trying to push as hard as you can to get there, than suddenly you stop and look at whats going on and think... "I am going nowhere with this."

Life gets a little overwhelming when you set standards and goals for yourself that are ambitious. Its hard to separate the realistic expectations from the "dreams." Not that you cant reach your dreams, or shouldn't try, but you have to hit all the milestones in the middle in order to get there. It takes time and it takes patience, of which I have none. You also have to break down the goals, piece by piece and remember that things wont happen over night and of course, just wanting something isnt enough, you have to fight for it.

I think my biggest problem is that I am a "big picture" person. I want the result. I want to take the shortest and fastest way from A to B and when the road starts to get windy I tend to get discouraged and frustrated... the frustration builds and I feel like I just stand still. See how that whole patience thing would come in handy right about here. Frustration is a pisser... seriously. Frustration is probably one of the worst emotions for me to handle. I hate the feeling of being overwhelmed, like I cant put the pieces together to make anything work right.

Some days I wake up and I look in the mirror and I see that person I used to be. Weak. Tired. Unsure. Some days I feel like there is no up. That I am just going to be where I am and I just have to get used to that. That my life as it is, is not going to change. Even when I try to push, I am not good enough, fast enough, smart enough... not for anyone else, but for myself. Like I am letting myself down. Add all that up and multiply it by the "frustration factor" and its a recipe for disaster.

This has happened more times to me than I want to admit. This is why there are movements in crossfit that I struggle at constantly after over two years, this is why I have not completed my exams... that overwhelming feeling that I am failing or I am going to fail. I dont know how to focus my energy on the things I struggle with without getting frustrated without feeling like I am standing still... I wish there was more time in the day.  

Now is the time to put on my big girl shoes, its Monday. The week can not start like this. I have to think about all the things I believe are inside of me and use my frustration in a positive way. I have to channel my energy, I have to move forward...even if its slow... forward progress is better than no progress.

I am not ok with life just being life, as long as I am not standing still I will get there.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What inspires you?

January 14, 2014

What inspires you? I mean really think about it. What gets your heart racing, your gears moving and your urge to fight, drive and complete something revved up? Clearly, we all have different inspirations and clearly, different things motivate for different reasons to reach different goals. But, have you ever really thought about the things that motivate you to keep you going every day?

I have been through some tough things in my life. I am lucky enough to have an amazing support system and I know I am going to be bias here, but the most amazing parents god put on this planet. Between the two of my parents, growing up, I had more inspiration right in front of my face than I even knew. To be honest, I didnt take advantage of that until I was an adult. I didnt know what I was looking at. I didnt realize just how much they inspired me until it was all put to the test. Until I had to look at my own life and think "I need to call my mom" or "what would my dad say if this happened to him?" They inspire me to be the woman I want to be. They inspire me to be a strong, independent person who dosent take shit from anyone. They inspire me to work hard, and taught me that though nothing is free in this life you have the power to get and do whatever you want. They inspire me to someday be the best mother I can be to my children if I am blessed to have them. They inspire me to be me. That if people done like me, thats ok. If people hate, thats ok. I am who I am and there are plenty of people out there who love and care for me. Dish it out... love people, care for people, make people smile... there is nothing better.

Over the last few months I have been laying pretty low on the "competition" side of the CrossFit world. The last comp I did was the 3G Throwdown at The Taj in Boston. Since than I have attended three competitions as a spectator Some of the ladies (and gents) have participated and I love to go and watch. Yes, some people think that its a little crazy to "waste" a day watching a competition that I am not participating in... but if you are looking for a source of CrossFit inspiration... well my friends, you should attend a few comps. If you are a competitor take a competition off and go observe.

Whats amazing is that the emotions are all still there. You know what the athletes are feeling and what goes through there head just as they are meeting with the judge to check in in their lane. You know the thought process about what to eat and when... and how to get in a good warmup before your event. The thing is, as a competitor we are really focused on ourselves the day of a competition. Yes, we are there to cheer on and encourage our gym, but you really dont have the time to take in the emotions that are all around you. When you are there watching... there is so much to absorb. There is so much to be inspired by.

A few CFWers competed this weekend for the first time. When I arrived at the event I couldnt help but be so excited to witness their first experience in competition. I can remember how I felt at my first comp and I could feel the energy from them... the nerves, the excitement and the urge to pee every 5 seconds!! It was all there!! These ladies were fierce! I saw sides of some of them that I have never seen before. They were amazing to watch and laid it all out on the line. They worked as teams, helped one another when they needed it and communicated perfectly. Really, they showed what a great facility and family we belong to at CrossFit Wachusett.

I sit back and think about it... how inspirational it is to me to see their performances. It makes me think of that drive, that determination to get better every single day. It reminds me of my beginning, where I have come from, where I am going and what I have left. They inspire me to push harder, get better and work faster. Their hard work and drive makes me want to be a better me. I know they were not just an inspiration to me, but to their husbands, children, brothers, sisters, friends... the list goes on! You ladies should be proud and very very pleased!!

Thank you ladies for inspiring me. Now, what inspires you?!