The 2016 CrossFit Games Worldwide Open officially starts on Thursday with the 5pm announcement of the first of five workouts ("16.1"). As we've covered previously we will be doing the Open workouts as rolling heats during our Saturday classes over the next five weekends (just as we have done in previous years), so the energetic "Open Saturdays at Arena Ready" will be in full swing this next month or so.
We've shared many stories of AR members and coaches, and athletes from other affiliate gyms, in regards to why they are doing The Open - and why exactly they want to take part in the largest global competition of fitness. I thought I'd share my thoughts as well on the eve of the 16.1 announcement.
I'm doing The Open for many reasons.
First of all I'm doing The Open because I believe in measuring things. What gets measured gets done. What doesn't get measured becomes anecdotal speculation - "I could have...", "I would have...", "I was this..." or "I was that..." blah blah blah. In those cases you'll never really know. It's kind of like Uncle Rico saying he could throw that football over those there mountains, and if only coach would have put him in they woulda' won state. I don't want to BS myself, I want to know. I want to see where I am at this point in time, what I'm able to accomplish, and what I still need to work on moving forward - I want real numbers, not talk. I understand that my scores don't define me as a person, they are simply data points which tell me how I'm doing right now - relative to others in the fitness world, relative to my friends at the gym, relative to my buddies in the broader CrossFit community, and most importantly relative to myself. Am I fitter than I was last year, three years ago, five years ago? Can I point to things/events/developments in my life that have influenced my training and fitness in positive or not so positive ways? Can I rationalize that major life events had an impact on my fitness, and am I ok with that or do I want to change the course of things moving forward? Some years have been better than others for me, and I would say that the last few have been some of the most challenging (read: I laid a few eggs in the last 2-3 years in The Open). But every year I play anyway, because I want to look at that board and see what I'm capable of... even if I think my best is still ahead of (or behind) me. Sitting on the sidelines isn't my style, even if I can't be the star.
This will be my sixth consecutive Open (I've participated in them all), and before my first one I even participated in the Sectional qualifier competition which, at the time, was the feed-in for the Regional level. I was fortunate enough to compete on a Regional Affiliate Team twice, even though I look back now and think I still had no idea what I was doing in many ways. Thanks to the Open and the Sectionals, and the workouts/events they challenged me with, I can tell you what my fitness looked like every year for the last six - I know what I could do well and what just crushed me. I remember movements seeming impossible that now seem routine, and alternatively I remember certain workout combinations being great for me that perhaps today, for whatever reason, are harder than they should be. It's safe to say that I'm more skilled in movements now than I ever was, that I move better across the board, that I understand strategy and pacing and training better than I did, but that my engine (my ability to "go" or to hit that 2nd or 3rd gear) and strength levels have seen peaks and valleys over the years. And I'm OK with that. I'm not a CrossFit Games athlete, far from it. I'm not even anywhere near the universe of a Regional-level athlete anymore. Some days I entertain the idea of competing as a Masters athlete in a couple of years when I hit 40, but I'll need to step-up my training big time if I ever want to take that seriously. For now I'm cool with my athletic competition career taking back seat to my coaching career, as my ability to teach and understand fitness has improved immensely even as my ability to compete (or just hang) with the big boys in CrossFit has declined proportionally. But hey, I'm still 38 years old and can run a sub-6 minute mile, deadlift 2.5x my bodyweight, and can play for days (assuming the activity or sport is not in the water) - I'm the fittest one by far in my circle of friends I grew up with (you know, normal people... non-CrossFitters, haha). I want to celebrate that, be thankful for it, and continue to make small, incremental gains for as long as I can... even as life sometimes makes that difficult.
I'm doing the Open because I love the sound of my wife's voice when she tells me, "good job, babe" as I'm lying on the floor in exhaustion after giving everything I had. I can hear the sincerity in her tone. She's the elite CrossFitter, not me, but she knows that regardless of level, or how fit I am versus how fit I once was, that this stuff is hard as hell... and she appreciates that I still do it so that I can be a better version of me. She is my reason, not my excuse.
I'm doing the Open because Arena Ready is my home, and it's also home to a lot of people I care about deeply. Just as I can hear the proud tone in my wife's voice when she's telling me I did great, I can also hear the supportive cheers and screaming of my friends who understand the pain of being uncomfortable - and who understand the growth and change that comes with putting yourself in that situation over and over again. Without challenge there is no change. This is my my crew - I've been to their weddings (and once was even honored to officiate); I've traveled near and far with them to compete, cheer, coach, and support; I've spent years with them, learning and understanding, trying to make us all better. These are the people I would call if ever I needed real help in life - and no doubt they would be there for me. This is my family. No fucking way I would ever miss this experience with them. I want them to hear my proud voice too, because I know the challenge they are undertaking. Being comfortable with uncomfortable is a noble pursuit, and I stand in their corner.
I'm doing the Open because I like to talk shit to my friends, and I like it when they return the favor. Sometimes I flirt with the idea that JUST MAYBE every single workout will have muscle-ups and/or handstand push-ups and thus I'll somehow finish ahead of Tony for once when all is said and done (ain't gonna happen). And even though Grant has moved and will be submitting (ahem) questionably high scores from somewhere else (video or it didn't happen buddy), and Julian has otherwise been occupied courtesy of the NFL, Cody is here now to continue to remind me that there's always someone younger and more athletic than you are - so, thanks jerks, really appreciate that. My boy Walker and I will probably do battle for an AR podium spot again, and I wouldn't have it any other way - he's been an Arena Ready supporter from day 1, and like so many of the folks here he's a great friend (with poor taste in football teams). Sadly for me, much like Grant, Walker hasn't really dropped off on his training all that much despite new fatherhood, so being an awesome and fit dad pretty much throws a wrench into my plans. I could go on and on about the men and women at AR that push me, and how much I enjoy jabbing at them in good fun, but this post is already too long and I don't want to start naming the other dozens of people who should be mentioned.
Finally, I'm doing the Open because I was taught that NO MATTER WHAT YOU KEEP SHOWING UP, especially when it comes to something you love. So even though my fitness may not be where I want it to be, and even though there is a laundry list of things I still want to be better at, I'm ready to participate and do my best. I can't wait to cheer, and coach, and high five, and I feel blessed to able to experience it all in our own gym. I'm ready to try hard, not take myself too seriously, and be happy for my friends that may beat me (after I insult their shitty taste in shoes or ugly workout face of course). I could get wrapped up in the "stress" of The Open that people sometimes create for themselves, but I've never really been that type of competitor. This is my Open, and my fitness, and my journey. And really, the journey is all there is.
Bring it on, 16.1.
WOD for 02-24-16:
7 Rounds, Start Every 3 Minutes:
3 Power Cleans, pick load
7 Burpee Box Jumps @ 24/20 in
Want to up the intensity? Run faster.