Knowing Your Limits: CrossFit Open 2012 - Erika Bruner
I’m writing from a plane, on the annual pilgrimage to Nana’s and Papa’s to celebrate Evelyn’s fifth birthday. Among the usual Floridian pursuits (pool time, golf cart rides, and happy hour at the town square) we’ll also be competing in the fifth and final segment of the 2012 CrossFit Games Open.
Are we such kickass crossfitters that we actually have to travel 500 miles to find people good enough to compete against? Ummmm...no. We’re just regular joes – right now I’m ranked around the 50th percentile for my performance in the first four workouts.
We’re doing this in Florida because, well, we’re going to be there, and also because CrossFit is an enthusiastically inclusive community that spans the globe. If you’re traveling, you’ll be warmly welcomed at a local affiliate; if you’re at home but don’t go to an affiliated gym, you can send in a video of yourself doing the workout in your garage, and the folks at CrossFit Open central will score it for you.
So why am I competing if I’ve got less chance of going to Regionals than a snowball had in central Vermont’s early-March heat wave? I asked myself this too, back when I wasn’t going to sign up. I have a funky shoulder, I said to myself; I don’t have the skills that some of the workouts will probably call for; I often don’t lift the “prescribed” weights in workouts; and I’m usually one of the last ones to finish. Back in college I was one of the best sprinters in the conference, and in my mind competing was for actual competitors.
I feared I’d look stupid, that the others in my gym would wonder what delusion had caused me to sign up, and that one (all?) of the workouts would demand something of me that I just couldn’t do. Like double-unders and muscle-ups. Then I realized that the key word was “Open.” Just like CrossFit itself, the Open is open to everybody. In CrossFit, workouts are infinitely scalable, and every time I go, we’re doing it together, but doing it for ourselves. CrossFit is intense and challenging, but each day I determine what intensity and challenge mean for me. There’s that element of competition with somebody else I know is close to my level, or even a bit ahead of me, but mostly I’m competing with my old self. Stretching to be stronger, faster, or braver than last time; learning new skills that I never imagined I’d own; or just wringing out every last bit of ability I have, so that when it’s over (and thank the gods, it’s over fast) I have that gloriously satisfying feeling of knowing I used it all up and did the best I possibly could have done.
The thing is, unless we put ourselves out there, we not only don’t grow, we shrink. Every day the forces of entropy and time conspire to make me less than I was the day before – less healthy, weaker, more forgetful – unless I get up and do something. And what I’ve found – through CrossFit; through childbirth; through being a mom, which is the hardest thing I’ve ever done – is that the bigger I go with putting myself out there, the more I discover I’m capable of. We need occasions to rise to, or we’re sunk. And I don’t want just to stay afloat in the ocean of my life. I’m looking to learn how to build a boat.
So yes, workout #4 did include double-unders and muscle-ups. Luckily (heh!) they were preceded by 150 wall-balls, so after I got through that, I had just over a minute left for the double-unders. And since signing up had motivated me to practice them, I was able to do 14 before the buzzer. Didn’t get to the muscle-ups (wink). Next year.