In January I started to hear the phrase "the open" being used around my crossfit gym. I had never heard of "the open" before, but it seemed to be a competition of some sort. Did you go somewhere to do this competition? I envisioned a large venue, like a gymnasium with bleachers, and lights shining brightly down on you. Then I found out "the open" was a series of workouts announced online and could be completed in the comfort of my home gym, Mt. Lebanon Crossfit. Still, I was unsure. I didn't think I would have much to offer to the open workouts, but I was willing to be a cheerleader for others. Our coaches suggested we give it a try. It would be a good way to measure our progress from year to year. It seemed like most people at the gym were signing up. I finally gave in and signed up; with my biggest reason being that I didn't want to be left out.
Before the open began I had two wishes for myself: to be able to compete in one, maybe two, of the workouts and to not make a fool out of myself. Obviously, I was setting the bar pretty low, but I didn't know what to expect. Here are four things I learned during the crossfit open.
1. I am capable of more than I thought I was.
As mentioned above, I was hoping that I could compete in one or two of the workouts. As it turned out, I was able to compete and get a score in every one of the workouts. In fact, I was able to do all but two of the movements included in the open workouts. Eleven for Thirteen? I'll take that any day.
2. I am stronger than I thought I was.
I've competed in a lot of competitions that have tested my physical abilities. But I had never tested my weight lifting abilities until Workout 14.3. It included box jumps and deadlifts. Heavy deadlifts. It's hard to put into words what I experienced during this workout, but I found a part of myself that I didn't know existed. I struggled. I was in pain, but somehow I lifted the heaviest weight I've ever lifted in my life. Now I know I have much more strength than I ever thought.
3. I have a lot to work on.
So, I already knew this one. There are many crossfit skills that I have yet to develop. But during the open I realized how one skill can make or break you. This became apparent during Workout 14.4. It included a skill called "toes to bar". I had just achieved my first "toes to bar" a week earlier. Now I had to do 50 of them in a row. I couldn't do them in succession, so I attempted them one at a time. A lot of my attempts resulted in my toes not touching the bar. At the end of fourteen minutes I had only managed fourteen reps. I ended up with a bruised ego and skin missing from my hands. Although it was a disappointing performance, it made me want to work harder and improve on my weaknesses.
4. There is inspiration all around us.
So often in life we get busy. We have tasks to complete and often we don't notice the great things others are doing around us. One philosophy that has been stressed in Crossfit since I joined the gym is that once you complete your workout you must encourage others until they are done. On the last night of our open workout (complete with an after-party) my friend, Christina, was the last athlete completing the 14.5 workout. She's the main reason I was here in the first place, as she encouraged me to join only months earlier. Now she was struggling. Standing less than five feet tall, completing 84 thrusters at 65 pounds (more than half her body weight) was a daunting task.
Everyone else in the gym had recovered from their workout and had found a bite to eat. But she didn't care. She turned her back to the buffet of food and the ticking clock. It was one of the most gutsy and grueling performances I've ever witnessed. She couldn't always get the weight overhead, and that was consuming time and energy. She attacked each thruster one at a time. By the time she had three thrusters left to complete the entire gym had gathered to watch this epic finish. It took one hour and eighteen minutes. She never waivered. She never gave up. She had achieved something remarkable.
And it was in those final moments of her workout, it hit me. For most of us, the open wasn't about the numbers. It wasn't about how much we could lift and how quickly we could complete it. It was about life. It was about being better today than we were yesterday. It was attempting something that seemed impossible and conquering it. It was accepting a challenge and completing it. No matter how long it would take. It was facing fear and doubt head on, and defeating it. It was the realization that we were stronger and better than just five weeks ago. It was realizing that we can be even better than we are right now. Now that was something we could all aspire to be.
Author: Sarah Warman
I like to run, take pictures and write. I've combined all three in this blog.