Alison showing good range on ring push-ups.
WOD: “Double Pits to Chesty”
70 Ring Push-ups (off of a box)
70 Box Jumps
Announcing the 2010 CrossFit Games – New location announcement
Below is a great, short essay from Jon Gilson about competing for a place in the CrossFit Games.
When I signed up, I was using the word “competing” loosely. Yeah, I was going to show up, and I was going to go through the motions, but winning wasn’t on my mind. Just making a good show would do. Just participating would make me happy.
Except, it didn’t. After the first WOD, I was in sixty-something place and pissed. Pissed I’d let myself go, pissed I’d let myself down, pissed that 115 pounds felt like it weighted 15,000, pissed that six months of not running made it particularly hard to run.
I’d spent the morning laughing and joking, watching waves of CrossFitters go though the first workout of the New England Sectional, a deceptive gauntlet of running and snatching: 800, 30 snatches, 800. My hoodie up and earphones in, I stretched lightly, waiting for the call, one of the last to go.
Instantly fucked. I was last in from the first run, trudging behind a guy who looked like he’d lose a footrace to a three-legged dog. I picked up my barbell, snatches came three at a time instead of ten, and I finished the last eight hundred to the sound of one plaintive spectator, “Com’on Jon, run!” Saddest sound I ever heard.
Then I got smart, I thought. I had a lot of time to watch the second WOD, the boys burning in hard doing a three-round smoker of box jumps, chest-to-bar pullups, and wall ball shots. Some were pulling to their belly buttons, seemingly trying to touch pelvis to pullup bar, and dozens were exceeding the drop-dead 15-minute cap. Easy win.
I drew a chalk line on my shirt, and confirmed with my judge that the mark was accurate; if he saw chalk, my pulls were good to go. I limped methodically through all three rounds, five reps at a time, avoiding any sort of metabolic stress, convinced that just good enough would be just good enough. Except, it never is.
My thirty-second place finish pulled me into 53th on the day, three places outside of the magical top fifty, three places from a spot in Day Two’s second WOD, the one that really counted.
Goddamn it, I’d come for fun, and now I was all wound up. Inadequate, and all wound up. The next morning demanded a seven rep-max squat clean with a 40-second time limit, the make-or-break weight hovering around 185. I figured I’d either make 185 or go home.
Amped on iPod crack, chalked up, shoes on, I loaded 185 on the bar. I knew it was too heavy the second I pulled under the first rep. Bravado overcame sense, and I stood it up three more times before my legs gave out, trashed from the previous day. The consolation weight, 165, went up easy enough, but it was over. I deflated.
Ended in 57th, with no shot at the last WOD.
Everyone I’d come with suited up for one more push, a nasty combination of running, stone lifting, deadlifting, overhead squatting, and burpees, and I watched, sucking on a beer I’d acquired in the parking lot, the sole failure in my squad of CrossFitters.
They were suffering, and I was watching, an athlete no longer. All my surfer dude bluster was straight gone, the “just for fun” commentary proving the shield of a man who didn’t want to face the prospect of caring and losing, of making this a matter of personal identity and then being shattered.
I smiled anyway, and cheered and coached, the number 502 printed on my arm in thick block letters, permanent marker smudged by sweat and cloth.
For whatever reason, this is what I remember, that 502, the only tangible reminder that I’d stepped into the Arena.
Monday, my training changed. No longer twice a week, wedged half-heartedly between lectures and demos and meetings and emails, I attacked. Every WOD was that last squat clean, every effort a desire to never repeat that failure.
Now, a month later, I’m thankful for that failure, one that no one but me remembers anymore. I’d stepped into a world with nowhere to hide, and the world had handed me my ass, and now I know.
It’s not enough to be a coach, a writer, a lecturer, a business owner. It’s not enough, because the rubber doesn’t meet the road in theory, in the margins of training textbooks and accounting spreadsheets. It meets the road in the Arena, where your theories are only as good as their output, where your motivation meets the hard test of athletic endeavor.
I won’t be the weak one. I will not be just good enough. I will live at the limits of my capacity, because living anywhere else is a lie. I don’t have the time, I don’t have the will, I don’t have the whatever: all lies, because the scoreboard respects only effort, only the will to win.
Now, there is a mission.