“Let’s go Christina, you can do this. Remember, mind over body!”
I fidgeted nervously. The words of encouragement from teammate Rachel circulated through my head as I contemplated the challenge before me: pick up a 15kg dumbbell with one hand, squat with it at my shoulder, then press it single-handed over my head. I had to repeat this on the other side, after which I had to jump on to a pull-up bar and swing my toes up to touch it. This sequence had to be repeated for 2 repetitions each, then 3 reps, then 4, then 5, then…well, you get the picture. I had 15 minutes to do many rounds as I could, while alternating with my WOD partner, Tim.
The problem was, I was pretty sure my left arm was going to fail me on the 15kg weight. I had only practiced with 12kg! What if I couldn’t do it?? I caught the eye of Coach Cheongy, who was on the arena floor as an event official. I bet he could see the fear on my face, so I was relieved when he came over to (I was hoping) calm my nerves. It was just what I needed: some sound advice from my trusty coach.
He looked me square in the eye and said: “Don’t be shit.”
My First Crossfit Extravaganza
For those of you wondering what the hell I’m talking about, last weekend I jumped WAY out of my comfort zone at the Allstar Affiliate Series event, a 2-day Crossfit competition held in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. I know some of you think I’m crazy for even doing Crossfit, but I decided to go a step further and compete with Crossfit-U against 47 other teams from around Victoria in a contest of strength, speed, endurance, sweaty abs and bright socks (Crossfit fashion, apparently. I had no idea. Gotta get on that for next year!!).
When I signed up I didn’t know what to expect, which was probably a good thing as I would have freaked out had I known I’d be doing seven workouts (“WODs”) in two days (to put it in perspective, my normal training consists of three WODs a week). Yep, this was gonna be tough.
The Melbourne event was held in one of the ‘sheds’ at the Showgrounds in Flemington. Day 1 started bright and early at 7.45am. We had to complete three WODs in a male/female pair, with 1-2 hours rest in between. Each WOD went for 15 minutes, where we had to complete as many reps of the set movements as possible. You do get to rest while your partner works, but when you’ve been madly doing push-ups or burpees or box-jumps, you barely have a chance to catch your breath before you have to jump back in again. And everyone had a ‘rep counter’ to make sure we did the moves as prescribed, so no-one could do a dodgy half-pushup, or whatever. If you didn’t do a move properly, they would yell “no rep!” and you’d have to do it again. Generally I did pretty well, except for when I was doing fast deadlifts and it felt like every second one was a ‘no-rep’. Gah!
Oh, The Pain
Day 2 started at 7.00am at the arena (yep, not much rest for us crazy Crossfitters). Waking at 5.30am on a Sunday was nowhere near as painful as the rampant soreness in my quads, glutes and hips that hit me like a Yarra tram. Now this I was not prepared for. God help me, I still had another day of physical and mental intensity ahead of me. Four WODs, but this time competing in our teams of six.
Some of the movements on Day 2 included heavy power cleans, bar jumping burpees, and these horrendous mutated versions of wall balls where we had to pick up a 9kg medicine ball (15kg for the guys), squat with it, then launch it about two metres up over a pull-up bar. If you didn’t get the timing right, the ball would hit the bar and come hurtling back at you, narrowly missing your face. And then your helpful rep counter would yell “no rep!”, which made me want to yell obscenities back at them, but instead I just gritted my teeth and picked the ball up for another attempt. It was tough, but I just tried to focus, resisted the urge to panic, and just pushed on through. Before I knew it, my fifteen reps were done and I could bid that bloody ball farewell.
The lead up to each WOD was just as nerve racking as the day before, but you know what? Once we got started, I was too focused on getting the reps out, making quick transitions between movements (and generally just not being shit) to even be nervous. And during the rest intervals, I used up any remaining energy I had to cheer on my team mates. Whether they heard me or not over the pumping music I don’t know, but it felt like I was doing something useful!
Sharing The Love
I have to say that even though we were all pushed to our limits, this was an awesome challenge and I’m super proud of all the Crossfit-U ninjas who competed. Coach Ben, Dan, Rosa, Jess, Sadira and Claire in team CFU qualified for the finals in Sydney next year, which is a PHENOMENAL achievement for a relatively young Crossfit gym, so a massive congrats to them. And to my Snatch Squad team – Tim, Captain Day, Vuonger, Krippner and Andrea – I couldn’t have asked for more enthusiastic and supportive teammates. You guys rock!
I also want to say a massive thanks to the stellar crew from Crossfit-U who came down to support us. HUGE thanks to Jacinda, our personal physio for the weekend, who massaged us after the WODs and taped up our sore hand and joints. To all the people who were there to cheer us on: you’re awesome! Thanks to Carl, Devon, Serena, Tom, Laura, Dani, Rob, Dave, Emma, Ian, Vanessa (and little Lara)…sorry if I’ve missed a few people, I’m sure I have, but you know who you are!
Finally, to coaches Ben and Cheongy: thanks for giving us the opportunity to compete, for giving up your Sundays for the extra training sessions, and for not giving us silly team names like “WOD On Your Face”.
What You Need To Do Right Now
If you’re reading this and have been even minutely inspired to sign up for some sort of physical and mental challenge, whether it be a fun run, mini triathlon, obstacle race, sporting comp (or maybe even starting Crossfit?!), then my advice to you is: JUST DO IT! Wrangle a friend into joining you, and Just. Sign. Up. Even if you’re unsure, just do it anyway, and you just may very well surprise yourself. Before the Allstars, there were so many things I didn’t think I could do, such as those single arm 15kg dumbbell thrusters. I ended up doing up to 8 reps of those suckers, even on my weak side. And I got 7 toes-to-bar swings unbroken, which was a first for me. Pretty cool! Realising that you can actually achieve stuff is an awesome feeling, and leaves you searching for the next thing to conquer.
So…go find the edge of your comfort zone, and gently push yourself off it (or just take a giant leap). Trust me, you won’t regret it.
Just don’t be shit.
This week I signed up for the Melbourne Spartan Race, a 14km obstacle course extravaganza. Yee-hah! What’s your next challenge?