"Aim for the trees, hit the floor, aim for the sky, hit the trees"
In other words, dream big, aim high and even if you don't achieve quite what you were aiming for you're likely to end up with a lot better a result than if you started out with some measly mediocre ambition.
I kept trying to train in preparation for 13.2 but I was ill and the symptoms were making it a nightmare to do anything. I was coughing constantly and doing any workout seemed to aggravate and leave me feeling 2 steps back from recovering. As a result I begrudgingly decided to rest from training in the hopes of actually recovering from my illness and be in a better state for the competition workout.
Unfortunately other things got in the way, problems with my flat, a shoulder injury and I kept delaying my attempt but eventually I got the point where I was ready to give it my best shot despite my less than ideal condition. I wanted 10 rounds and I got 9 rounds and 3 STOs. It wasn't what I wanted but I was pleased with the result given the circumstances. It was a respectable score. But I'd assumed that would be the end of worrying about being ill during an open workout and unfortunately it didn't turn out to be the case.
13.3 quickly arrived and I didn't feel much better. Still coughing regularly and still unable to train without bouts of coughing fits. Even more reluctantly I was forced to remain off training with the hopes of recovering and having to delay the open workout for as long as possible.
When the Sunday came (today) I felt 'ok' or at least I thought I did. The night before I'd gone out for dinner with friends and kept coughing but I woke up feeling better than average. I had everything planned out, I'd been visualizing what I wanted to achieve in every detail, I'd been reminding myself of past achievements, providing my mind with concrete evidence that I could do this, I could achieve what I was picturing in my mind and it was not just possible, it was completely feasible.
I arrived at the gym, went through my pre-workout rituals, listened to the speeches on my ipod, warmed up properly and felt ok. I'd taken my lemsip and painkillers, vicks vapour rubbed all over my chest and throat. Good to go.
I had a plan, I knew what I needed to get, I was aware that I might not achieve exactly what I wanted (a complete round and maybe 1 or 2 wall balls) but knew from the above quote that this is what I needed to be picturing. I set off and the wall balls felt ok. I got my 50 first reps unbroken but didn't quite manage to stick to my sets of no less than 20. In any case I came off the wall balls around 7 mins or just a bit less. This was part of the plan. But when I got to the double unders it was like oxygen had just left and not decided to come back. I did the best that I could but had to keep stopping in an effort to catch some kind of air. I knew this wasn't good but eventually I made it onto the muscle ups. This was supposedly my time to shine. Muscle ups are one of my favourite movements, I'm good at them and even better than I used to be. But when I jumped on the rings I had nothing. I struggled to pull out single reps and I knew immediately that I was not only not going to achieve my goal, I was going to fall short but a long shot. I stood below the rings watching them spin with sheer frustration and anger and my incompetence and delay in not being able to string out even doubles.
But the time the buzzer went for the end of 12 minutes a huge wave of disappointment and disbelief washed over me. Part of me didn't understand what had just happened. I sat down and looked at the floor ashamed. This time it wasn't a score (in my mind) that I could even settle with some sense of satisfaction, it was a complete disaster, an embarrassment and humiliation. Now you might be reading this and thinking "over-exaggeration, drama queen" and maybe you're right. I don't mean to insult anyone who scored less than me but for me and my level and the time I've been doing CrossFit and the amount of training and work I've put in this was a failure entirely.
Friends came over to me with words of condolence and encouragement and it didn't fall on deaf ears but it did feel like "these are the things you tell a loser to make him/her not feel so bad about their defeat". One person told me "you're still my hero" but I sure didn't feel like one in the slightest. I'd always hoped that at the very least I could inspire others with my performances but I don't think I even achieved that.
My friend Alex gave me some useful advice that actually led me to write this post:
"How would a future champion respond to this outcome? They would write down every positive they could take from their performance and write down every single thing they could learn from the last few weeks. They would take full responsibility for everything and blame nothing. Pick up...dust off...get back on"
So these are the positives from my 13.3 attempt:
1) I achieved 50 wall balls unbroken and stuck relatively well to my plan for that movement (usually around sets of 20 reps subsequently)
2) I was afraid but I turned fear to fight and took my apprehension head on
3) I didn't give up, I kept going despite the fact I knew I wasn't going to achieve my goal at the end
4) I watched technique videos and efficiency tips before the day
5) I stayed positive up until I finished the workout
What I've learnt over the past few weeks:
1) Chris Spealler says you need to separate your identity from your performance. I haven't been able to achieve this yet. If I had I wouldn't be feeling so bad now.
2) Shit happens. Whether you want to call it God or the Universe, he, she or it giveth and taketh away. No possession you have be it material or immaterial is yours forever. It may come and go or disappear entirely.
3) Rudyard Kipling has a poem that I love and one of the lines seems applicable here: (I'll paraphrase)
"If you can watch the things you gave your life to, broken, and stoop and build them up again with worn out tools. If you can make one heap of all your winnings and risk it one turn of pitch and toss and lose, and start again at your beginnings..."
4) This reminds me of a workout 2 years ago in the open. I didn't manage to beat my score on my second attempt and my hopes for making regionals took a big hit. I was distraught but I still made it. The CrossFit open is like golf, you might mess up on one hole but there's 18 of em and it ain't there all done. You can either let your poor performance on one carry over onto the rest or think of every one as a fresh start.
5) It's been a bitter winter and spring shows no signs of the weather letting up, I've been and continue to be sick, I've had injuries and things that have made me want to give up and break down but as Rocky says:
"The world aint all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and no matter how tough you are it will beat your to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, nobody aint never gonna hit as hard as life, but it aint about hard you hit, it's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done. Now you know what you're worth then go out and get what you're worth, but you gotta be willing to take the hits and not pointing fingers"
I think sometimes I put too much of myself into this CrossFit stuff or maybe expect too much of myself. But the reason I do, and it may be misguided, I hold myself to the highest standard because I believe with enough hardwork and determination and self-belief that it's attainable. It being your dreams. I don't think it's something reserved for a chosen few and if you don't happen to be chosen then I think kick the door down of that room where ever those people are getting picked and demand to be one of them. It takes no guts to be skeptical. To be "realistic". Some people will laugh at you when/if you tell them your ambitions or goals because they sound so ridiculously unreachable. Well fuck you. I'd honestly rather die in the pursuit of my goals than agree with you.
I don't mind saying I'm afraid. Afraid that what if all the sacrificing never pays off, afraid that I'll fail. Courage was never born out of absolute certainty I say. But you'll never achieve anything worthwhile unless you face your fears and go for it and have some kind of belief that you can do it.
I hope this inspires somebody and if you ever find yourself in the situation I'm in now what I ask you to say to the sky and whoever lives up there is: "what else you got?"
I'm not going to stop while I have a breath in my body. I will continue to lay my heart out there whatever that looks like.