My CrossFit Open experience, The Good, The Bad, The Ugly. (What I learned)

I signed up for the CrossFit Open in mid February. And I did so without much hesitation. I had thought about participating last year, but eventually chose not to. I told myself that next year would be my year. I watched last year as others competed together, tried to better themselves and I wanted in.

What is the ‘CrossFit Open’ you may ask? It is a 5 week long competition, that individuals can register for online. One workout gets announced each week, then scores are submitted. The top athletes go on to compete in Regionals. Then those top athletes go one to compete in the CrossFit Games.

That made this year a no-brainer. Even though I had surgery in September. Even though I hadn’t worked out very much since. Neither of those things mattered much to me, I wanted in. Throughout the 5 weeks of this year’s open, I was able to record my score for weeks 2, 3 and 4 of the workouts. Through a series of unfortunate scheduling events, I never made it into the gym to complete the workout week 1. And week 5? Oh week 5. We’ll get there eventually.

I competed in the scaled division for each week. Which means the movements are slightly easier, and the weight slightly lighter. Week 2 was confusing as hell to explain, but not so bad to complete. It wasn’t the worst I had ever done and it built my confidence. Week 3 was the same, except it was much more straightforward. I was able to execute the movements, which I didn’t think I’d be able to. A nice surprise! Seems so rare in CrossFit, a surprise being welcomed!

Week 4, it all started to go downhill. The workout started with my most favorite lift ever, heavy deadlifts. After that, it was all the movements I hate. One of those movements was a wallball. This is where you are required to throw a weighted med ball into the air and reach a target. These are a MAJOR weakness of mine. I know this is a weakness, I’ve been working on this weakness, but it’s still a weakness. I made it through the deadlifts ok. Then the wallballs were next. That’s where I got stuck for the rest of the workout. They were tough. I missed so many of them. But my judge kept telling me slow down, wait until you are ready. I was rushing so much of the movement, I was missing way more than I should. I finished with only completing 15 of 55 wallballs. But that’s 15 more than I thought I would get. Because patience was key. (First learned lesson)

Week 5. Oh heavens, where do I start? At the beginning I suppose. EVERYONE in the CrossFit community who had done this workout several years ago, was talking about this one. How awful it was, how terrible it was. But going into this workout, I felt good. I felt ready. I felt like I was going to conquer the final workout of the games and end on a high note. My coach started class with a great ‘speech’ to us all. About if we thought the workout will suck, it will suck. Which totally makes sense, mindset is everything after all. Then he went into the second part of his speech. He started talking about the disabled and adaptive athletes. How they would feel happy to move like this, even if we think it is ‘awful’. This really hit home for me. Granted I am not an adaptive athlete right now, but that is always in the back of my head. There was a time when I thought that would be in my near future. That speech of his, brought these issues of mine to the forefront again. Not really the way I had envisioned my workout starting. Anyway, my sister went first. She did great, but also suffered. She struggled, but did well overall. I was up next. To say I struggled is an understatement. It was the hardest workout I’ve done. The weight was hard, yes, I struggled and failed with it many times. It was a weight I KNOW I could do a year ago. I started to get frustrated. I continued to struggle and fail. I succeeded twice, then I would fail. This went on and on. Finally my coach came over. He told me if I kept missing. I would have to lower the weight. Major frustration set in. So did a few tears. Tears? In a workout? Who am I? Ugh. I worked on. I pushed them away. I got mad. I got mad at my body, I got mad at MS. I got mad at not being where I used to be. But that didn’t help anything. I kept up my pattern. Succeed then fail. He came over again. I had to lower my weight. There came the rest of the tears. From where, I don’t know. I am very skilled at stopping tears. But when I am in the middle of lifting heavy weight, I am no match for small puddles of water.

I wanted to quit. I even said to my sister who was judging my workout, ‘I’m done’. But he came right over and said finish it. And I did. I pulled misty self together, lowered my weight and finished the workout. I worked long after class was over, but everyone stayed to cheer me on. And well into the next class that had started, but they all cheered me on. I felt a whole range of emotions. I was exhausted, I was embarrassed, I was frustrated, I was grateful.

I was grateful that I finished, and didn’t quit half way through. I was grateful that I had others around me to cheer me on. I was grateful that I could move like this in the first place, and lift the weight I could after what I’ve been through. This workout was one of the toughest, if not THE toughest I’ve been through. It challenged me physically but, it was the hardest on me mentally. I had to get over my frustrations with my body, my frustrations with MS and my frustrations with my emotions, and FINISH my workout. I know I can handle this in the future. Because I’ve already handled it. (Second learned lesson).

If you want to hear more about my CrossFit journey, join my list here! I’ll be sending out an email about my struggles and progress!