The 2019 CrossFit Games Worldwide Open officially starts on Thursday with the 5pm announcement of the first of five workouts ("19.1"). For a number of reasons -- not the least of which being the incredible environment at Arena Ready every year around this time -- it’s going to be an awesome ride these next five weeks. 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 during this next month.
In previous years, we’ve shared stories of AR members and coaches (and athletes from other affiliate gyms) and their reasons why they’re 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 once again this year as we approach the 19.1 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 during the last several 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 year will be very different for me than any other year -- I'm 14 months post hip surgery, 13 months in on an exciting new career challenge that has enriched my mental focus, and Sarah and I obviously have the little one who was born just after the 2018 Open wrapped up. So while last year I was severely limited by what I literally COULD NOT do (i.e. was not actually allowed to), I'm motivated this year to find out what it is I CAN do in light of what life has thrown at me (and blessed me with) since the close of last season… i.e. I’m healthy and cleared to do almost everything, but my training and fitness have certainly not been a top priority.
This will be my NINTH 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 Sectionals, and the workouts/events they challenged me with, I can tell you what my fitness looked like every year for the last ten years - I know what I could do well and what 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 what would have been a Regional-level athlete anymore. Some days I entertain the idea of competing as a Masters athlete, and I used to think I had a little time since the Masters divisions started at 40 until they changed the Masters starting age to 35 in 2017. THANKS A LOT CROSSFIT… WHERE WAS THAT SIX YEARS AGO WHEN I WAS KILLING IT AT 35???!!! Kidding, I wasn't actually killing it. But it’s fun to sometimes think I was.
If I ever want to be serious about being a competitive Masters athlete I'll need to get the ol' hip strong once again and then step-up my training big time. But for right now I'm cool with my athletic competition career taking back seat to my family, my career, and honing my coaching craft. As my ability to teach and understand fitness has improved immensely, my ability to compete (or even just hang) with the big boys in CrossFit has declined proportionally (haha). But hey, I'm 41 years old and can still sniff a 6-minute mile, deadlift 2.5x my bodyweight, and 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). And even though I'm no longer the wannabe firebreather I once was, I want to celebrate what I know I'm still capable of, 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 (even if this year it's not that much). 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. A better husband. A better father. Sarah and Avery are 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 deeply care about. 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. I used to flirt with the idea that JUST MAYBE every single workout would have muscle-ups and/or handstand push-ups and thus I'd somehow finish ahead of Big Tony for once when all is said and done (ain't gonna happen). And even though Grant has long since moved and recently added child #2 to his family -- and (much like Grant) Walker has continued to stay fitter than I would sometimes like even during fatherhood -- I still have plenty of friends at Arena Ready to chase. My current state of fitness also puts me in a fun situation where I'll be trying to essentially chase everyone who's entered, and that should be interesting as I attempt to strategize my way through the workouts in a fashion that maximizes my score but also keeps me safe. We have a long list of men and women who work their asses off and (even when I'm training regularly) can school me in any given workout on any given day, and it’s their dedication to bettering themselves that pushes me harder, and makes we want to cheer for them to blow me out of the water. I could go on and on about the folks 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 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 smoke 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, 19.1.
WOD For 02-19-19:
Power Clean & Jerks @ 155/105 lbs
***Complete 1 Round of “Cindy” after each set of Clean & jerks (for a total of 10 rounds of Cindy)
(Compare to 02-20-18, 02-21-17, 02-06-16 @ 135/95 lbs, 11-29-14 Gladiators, 06-10-13, 01-24-13, 10-11-12)