Last year around this time I wrote a blog post titled "The House That Hopping Built" which briefly chronicled Sarah's CrossFit Games Open/Regional competition history, and the tough road she endured getting to the 2015 California Regional. This year so much has changed, and yet so much still remains the same. Rather than attempt to recount the history for those who might be interested (we do have a small and enthusiastic contingent of new-ish Arena Ready members who were not a part of the gym at this time last year), I thought it best to update/annotate the post from last year to include some new thoughts and still provide the chronological events that led up to this day.
My apologies in advance for the length of this post. To paraphrase Blaise Pascal, if I had more time I would have written less...
Sarah's road to the 2016 Regionals once again traveled through The Open, but also through some very different and difficult life challenges that neither of us could have ever seen coming. As some of you may know, Sarah has been back-and-forth to Colorado over the last few months with her dad in-and-out of the hospital - and, as you can imagine, it's made for some extremely difficult times for her and for her family. And yet here she is, on the eve of the 2016 CrossFit Games California "Super" Regional, ready to fight with every last ounce in her being to test herself against some of the best in the world. Lindy Barber, a multiple-time CrossFit Games competitor, articulated it all so well this week:
Earning a spot to the @crossfitgames is about so much more than being good at fitness. It's about overcoming adversity, beating the odds, fighting for something bigger than yourself. It's an extremely emotionally charged weekend, that is fueled by the "whys" of each athlete. We are all putting all of our energy into one focus: for our larger purpose. @crossfit is about so much more than just fitness. It makes us better people. We are all inspired by our own individual "why"
Our own individual why. I love that.
In 2015, following an entire year away from competitive CrossFit, Sarah somehow found a way to claw through the 2015 Open and secure a spot to Regionals despite a tighter qualifying window than ever before, a painfully dislocated rib that continued to hamper her training, and the newly added five-day-per-week second job she had taken on (complete with a daily 2.5 hour round trip commute to boot). How she juggled that combined with helping me run the gym and coach classes - and then somehow fit any semblance of high intensity training of her own into her schedule - I truly have no idea. I marveled at her intense drive, her passion for life and those she deeply cares about (including her Arena Ready family), her commitment to excellence in everything she does, and her refusal to accept any of her responsibilities or obligations as excuses for not being the best she can be in any given moment.
The highlight of the 2015 Regional, apart from the 40+ Arena Ready crazies who made their way down to the competition to assemble what was likely the loudest little cheering section in the building, was her world-record setting win in Event 5 (check out a quick glimpse of that moment at 0:50 in the video below):
Sarah spent all of 2014 away from the sport of CrossFit, and dedicated herself to Olympic weightlifting in an attempt to make the Pam Am and World Team for the United States. And although the grueling year presented her with a ton of adversity (including a broken femur prior to Nationals), she ended up just one snatch shy of the former goal. By the close of 2014 she had been fortunate enough to train at the Olympic Training Center multiple times under the guidance of one of the greatest coaches alive, set new personal records in her lifts and her competition total, and finished second in the American Championships in December, bringing home three silver medals.
Sarah at the 2014 USAW American Championships, with background cameos by both yours truly and Coach Hillary (Photo courtesy of hookgrip)
As she moved on from her year of dedicated weightlifting and back into CrossFit, she had gained a new perspective on the sport and community she loves so much, and missed so dearly. For the first time in a VERY long time she was looking forward to actually having fun competing - trying her best and laying it all on the line without the intense pressure or anxiety of years past. She had missed being out on the competition floor with all of the friends she's made along the way during her competitive CrossFit journey - and I'd be lying if I said she wasn't also amped-up to leave it all out there on behalf of her dear friends, training partners, and fellow competitors, Coach Liz and Coach Amy (since, for the first time in a several years, they were not out there competing with her this time).
The official 2013 Regionals "Smile Like Sarah. Eat Like Liz" tank top
2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
At the 2010 Southwest Regional Sarah finished 23rd (including two top-8 event finishes), just three months after she started doing CrossFit (Julian and I actually had to coax her into even entering the Sectional pre-qualifier because she felt like she didn't know what she was doing yet!). In 2011 Sarah had to skip the CrossFit Games season entirely after breaking and then surgically repairing her elbow following a freak accident at the track. That was not a fun year, as the healing and rehab process took much longer than we both expected - but it did light a fire under her to come back even stronger and fitter for 2012 and beyond.
In 2012 she made a big splash at the NorCal Regional, winning two events outright and finishing second in another. She entered the final event of the weekend in 4th place (one spot away from making the Games World Final), and eventually placed 6th overall after realizing mid-workout that she was mathematically eliminated from the podium... and was happier turning around during the workout to slow down and face her crowd of supporters so she could smile and say thank you after each muscle-up. What a nerd! But what can I say, that's her style - and those of you who know her well can grasp how happy it made her to do that, particularly during that exact moment.
Here's Sarah in 2012, setting what would be the "CrossFit Games world record" in Event 5 (the double under/snatch ladder):
In 2013, Arena Ready had been open for about 7 months prior to the NorCal Regional and I think Sarah had slept exactly zero full nights during those trying times of our gym's early existence. But somehow she entered the competition stronger and fitter than she had ever been, and went on to once again win two events outright, including the final event (Event 7, the rope climb/squat clean) in dramatic fashion. When the official scores were entered, and the points tallied, Sarah finished 4th overall, just one point (and as it turns out, just one rep and literally one second) from the podium and a ticket to the Games World Final.
Sarah points and thanks her AR family in the crowd after the final event in 2013
The Arena Ready cheering section at the 2013 Regional (I think they started the wave like 11 times during the final day of competition)
Back to 2016
And now here we are again, on the eve of game day 2016, and Sarah is so grateful for another opportunity to compete and represent Arena Ready and all of our amazing people. Sometimes she doesn't get the chance to say it as often as she'd like to, either because she's exhausted from the million things she does every day, or because she's engrossed in conversation with our members/friends/coaches whom she adores and is so happy to see at the gym, or because I've ordered her to start warming up already so that she can finally train in the hopes of us eventually making it home to eat dinner before her state of sleepy overtakes her state of hunger (we actually argue over why I think she still needs to eat before she goes to bed, and that it doesn't matter that she feels too sleepy to do so). But what I do know is that she feels it every day - a huge sense of pride that we have such an incredible group of people we get to call our AR family, and an overwhelming feeling of love for the individuals that come together every day to create the "home" she helped build on Connecticut Street.
In many ways Arena Ready is The House That Hopping Built. She would never say that herself, and in fact she'd probably adamantly disagree with me on that point. But I know better - I have far more time on my hands than she does to reflect, and certainly more energy (thanks to having two less jobs) to reach rational conclusions. Her determination over the last four years to make our little place in the world a great one is so strong that I think we may have actually done just that. And all the while she's somehow had enough physical energy, mental fortitude, and unrelenting drive to excel individually in the name of Arena Ready collectively.
I couldn't be prouder of my wife, and I'm excited to be along for the ride. And perhaps even more excited that all of you get to come along too - either in person cheering from the stands, or at home screaming at your laptop.
Go get 'em, Sarah. I love you.
(Photo, along with the two above it, courtesy of... who else... the amazing Jenny AKA oh happy dawn photography)
Remember that if you're not here with us in Del Mar to cheer in person, you can stream all the action live (events will also be archived) on the CrossFit Games website - click here for all the details.
Sarah's Day 1 (Friday) event heat times are scheduled at 12:10pm and 2:25pm Pacific Time.
WOD for 05-13-16:
ON A RUNNING CLOCK...
A) From 0:00 - 13:00
With a Partner For Quality:
600m Run TOGETHER
50 Wall Balls @ pick load
40 Kettlebell Swings @ pick load
Both partners run together completing 600m. Then partners split the remaining movement reps evenly, with only one partner working at a time. This is FOR QUALITY not for time, so move with a purpose (i.e. don't lollygag or you won't be done by 13:00) but prioritize movement integrity in order to prepare/warm the entire body for 5x5 back squats.
B) From 13:00 - 50:00
Back Squat (Week 5, Day 2):
5x5 @ 85%