Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Beast Mode

If you follow my blog you may recall a post I made about why I love Crossfit.  Up until then it was kind of my dark little secret.  Like a super power I only let a certain number of people know about, including my family.   In my life I have gotten excited about a lot of things that have been short lived.  My friend calls it my Step Brother's moment.  In the movie Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly get so excited about making bunk beds "so much room for activities!" and it results in the top bunk falling and "blood everywhere!" In other words, my ideas are short lived and usually come crashing down.  But I have just finished a year of it and I still can't get enough.  When I heard about an all women's competition I decided (with the strong coercion of my new friends) to participate.  I signed up and began worrying about it for the next 6 weeks.

The day arrived and there were 100 women from all over the Midwest.   I envisioned 99 women with huge muscles barreling through the door ready to kick some ass. Although some did have huge muscles, the one thing everyone had in common was strength. Regardless of  age, shape or size all were there to kick some ass, their own.  

Doing something out of your comfort zone requires a bit of fearlessness.  The morning of, I was nervous and excited,. Wondering what I should eat just in case I puke it up in front of everyone.  I looked at everyone around me and was convinced that I was going to finish in the bottom two.  Obviously, I wasn't in it to win it, but I certainly wasn't in it to lose it either.    What is a Crossfit competition like?  This is my take.

The energy was palpable, how could it not be with a huge mass of women in one place?  There were different heats of scaled and prescribed workouts. I chose scaled because I felt I was too young to die.   Once it began something crazy happened. The competition became more of a celebration of  strength and sexiness.   Women pushing themselves to do things that previously were inconceivable.
I invited my parents.  They had no idea what to expect.  Up until this point my mom thought it was a gymnastics class. They loved it and I loved having them there.  It's not too often, as an adult, that your parents can cheer you on.  As a kid they sat through endless sporting events and I could always hear my Dad screaming my name.  He stood against the wall as I started my second WOD (workout of the Day).  The total length was only 10 minutes but to give you an idea, this is what those 10 minutes looked like.

10 jumping pullups,
20 burpees,
40 wallballs, 10 lbs.
90 single jump rope,
50 kettlebell 26 lb. swings
2 clean and jerks 65 lb.
At least that was what my 10 minutes looked like.  There were women that did 4x as many clean and jerks as me.

I began strong. I could see my Dad peripherally.  But when I got to my biggest challenge (wall balls) the familiar sound of his voice brought me back to the soccer field in high school and refueled my spirit.  I could hear him screaming my name over the crowd.  Cheering for something he had no idea about, but could tell I was giving it everything I had.  Hearing the familiar howl of my name pushed me through the pain. And the word pain is putting it lightly.
When I turned around I could see him, now, no longer against the wall but standing up on something so he could see me and I could see him.  I will admit there was an element of concern in his face. After all, he is witnessing his 36 year old daughter, the mother of 4 of his grandchildren, lift some crazy amount of weight and veins popping out of her forehead.  It blew his mind. Afterwards I approached him and  his usual delicate hug was now big bear one. He was speechless.
The day continued and I lost my voice because I was cheering for anyone and everyone.  There were several men chosen as judeges and several just there to watch.  Mesmerized by these women, not just for their appearance but for their drive. Busting the myth that sexy girls only come in one size. According to my husband (who volunteered to take pictures of the event) he had never seen so many crazy sexy girls in one place. I agree.  And I know he has been to one or two bachelor parties in Vegas, so I considered that a well educated conclusion.

My mom was able to meet up with my dad for my last workout.  A dead lift ladder. After I assured my Dad it wasn't an actual ladder,  and that there were several doctors in the house, it put his mind at ease. It was 15 barbells increasing in weight. Starting at 65 lbs. to 205 lbs. You had 1 minute to lift each one.  My mom stood at a distance and traveled with me to each station.  Although she used to cheer for me as a kid, she was mute.  When I glanced over at one point she had her hands covering her mouth and the look of terror.  For all she knew I was going to break in half.  Even I don't understand how I could lift something very close to double my weight, but I did.
Afterwards, she gave me a big hug, and held on, thankful that I was still in one piece. Although she is and was as strong as me, her generation of women never displayed it.  Women were considered the weaker sex, both mentally, intellectually and certainly physically. I really don't believe they ever were, they were never given the opportunity to display it. In fact it was considered ugly if they did.

But here I was, the age she was when she had me, being celebrated for things that her generation believed only men should do.
I learned so much that day, when I walked in I thought I was competing against these women and when I walked out I realized we were all in it together.  Competing against conventional stereotypes.
I challenge anyone to watch one of these events and not leave with complete admiration for the participants.
As I was leaving a friend of mine came up and congratulated me.  His said  "Congratulations!, You are a Beast!".  Just a year ago I would have been completely offended by that because I always wanted to be considered the Beauty.

This day made me realize I can take pride in being both.