Lift & Let Go

Post-Open 2018, it’s been one helluva year. I came, I CrossFitted, and… I am approximately THREE places fitter than I was at the end of the 2017 Open Season. They say that consistency is key and I certainly hit the nail on the head when it came to my final ranking for the 2018 Open. In 2017, I placed 175th in the North East and 62nd place in New York. This year, I placed 172nd in the North East and 62nd place in New York. Yup, laugh out loud. I’ll admit this was a bit discouraging and infuriating when I realized that the numbers were falling that way, but hey, the ranking doesn’t really show the full picture (more on that later).

So, what’s happened since I last checked in? Well, to avoid the inevitable “burn out”, I’ve been spending the past month mentally resetting, vacationing, eating/drinking as I please, training a little less, and uhhh… ehhem… quitting my full time physical therapy job! Yup. That. Just. Happened. Remember when I said “Something has got to give” in part 1 of my series? Let’s just say I did not expect this to be the thing that I chose to let go. Sometimes you just have to be put under a high level of pressure to have that moment of clarity.

For those who have been reading my series, you would know that I am a job juggler. For the entire year leading up to the Open, I’ve been working my full time physical therapy job in Manhattan, coaching part time at CrossFit South Brooklyn, programming for my remote clients and assisting at athlete/coach seminars through The ActiveLife, writing articles for the BTWB press, meal prepping weekly, training 5x/week, all while simultaneously trying to hang on to my relationship and social circle for dear life. I was basically operating at 70% all of the time. I managed to keep it together for quite some time, but did not quite realize the toll it had been taking until the night of 18.1.

The Breaking Point: Erg-Mergerd!

Just like every other human who was nervous about the Open, I was eager to get the first workout under my belt. I spent the entire morning leading up to 18.1 uncomfortably shifting, pacing, and dumbbell cleaning at random around my office. As if I needed to delay my anxiety any further, I was signed up to go in the final heat at my gym’s Friday Night Lights.

By the time I got to the gym, I was a bundle of nerves. I remember trying to go all “Rocky training montage” mode in my warmup. I had my headphones in, was avoiding all eye contact while trying to fire myself up and stay focused on what I was about to do. The time came and our stations were assigned. 3-2-1, Go! Enter the first round. Toes to bar are feeling crisp, clean and jerks are looking awkward, and the ERG feels… wait. My screen is not counting calories?! Womp. Womp. In complete disbelief, I let go of the handles and stared blankly ahead at everybody else, trying to process if this was actually happening. This moment that I had been anxiously awaiting all day, all year, had been taken away from me due to a bought of bad luck. Erg-mer-gerd.

My typical reaction would have been to laugh it off, call it quits, have a solid meal with some friends and wait it out until tomorrow. Instead, I chose chaos. I knew there were a lot of people watching, so I forced a smile, started walking around, took a few deep breaths, and declared I would be doing it alone after the final heat. But as I watched everybody chip away at the workout, the more personally unfair it felt for me to stand on the sidelines and wait. It was a recipe for disaster.

When the time came for me to finally get going, I only managed to get a few reps into round 1 before I was against the wall drowning in a pool of my own tears. This was no longer about the ERG, it was about the full time job, the subway commute, the meal prep, the distanced friendships, the chronic exhaustion, the expectations, everything. I cried relentlessly for hours. I knew I had to let it out, it was a very excruciating, exhausting, necessary release. I knew in this moment, that something had to give.

I woke up the next morning feeling quite frankly, depressed and embarrassed. I knew I had to make a change, but I was unsure yet of what that would be. But I did know one thing, if I did not stop taking this CrossFit crap and life of mine so seriously, I would never succeed. Time to turn that frown upside down.

Although I was only feeling a fraction of normal myself, I decided to have a kicka$$ day. I came in, muddled my way through 18.1 and got a score. I can’t describe how good it felt to simply have a rep count; just knowing that I was physically capable of competing in the Open. It was in the moment that I looked around at the sea of people working together, supporting each other, and realized how much I loved this gym and my coaching job more than anything.

That’s when the little voice popped into my head that said “you’re going to quit your job”. It was a relief to think about that choice, not because I hated my job or physical therapy, but because it was a major stressor that was eating away at my happiness. It was time to let go, move forward, and condense my efforts to serve the fine people of CrossFit South Brooklyn.

I quit my job one week ago and as people ask me, “are you having any feelings of regret?” I smile and say, “Nope, I couldn’t be 100% more confident that I made the right choice.” I now have the opportunity to learn, practice as a physical therapist independently, become a better coach, athlete, and create happiness for myself.

Back to the Drawing Board

Now that I’ve reduced some stressors, it’s time to make a game plan moving forward. Looking at this year’s Open numbers point blank, one would label this as a good ‘ol fashioned plateau, but if you break down the results, you can see where I’ve made progress as well as where I could gain some ground. It’s very clear from the ranking that one of these things is not like the other.

For the most part, where I stand as an individual in the North East region appears to be pretty consistent across the board except for that DANG 1RM clean. What does this reveal about me as an athlete? My opinion is that I lack absolute strength under fatigue. This variable is easy to miss, as just recently, I was able to power clean 170 lbs (90% of my current 1RM) 35 times in 8 minutes. Knowing that, you would think a 200+ clean is a no-brainer, right? Wrong. My all-time best clean is 195 lbs. Barbell cycling sub-max weight is my wheelhouse and all of my 10-rep max numbers dance uncomfortably close to my 1RM.

Give me 16.2 any day, as the meat and potatoes of that workout are sub max cleans. But 18.2a was a completely different beast and something I wasn’t quite ready for. I suppose that it’s going to take a little bit more digging to figure out exactly what I need to work on to fill in that hole besides just getting stronger, but that’s alright. Things are beginning to feel a little more like fine tuning rather than triage. Back to the drawing board we go! All in all, I couldn’t be happier with how this year went. Thanks again to Jon and the CrossFit Kinnick community for the continual support throughout this training year- you are a killer coach!

This year will be more interesting, athletically, than ever for me and I can’t wait to take on the off-season. The biggest difference between this year and last year is that I was able to look at the top scores on the leaderboard and think to myself, “okay, I can see how that’s possible”. It wasn’t possible this year, maybe not even next, but as most of us know, this journey is about more than immediate gratification. It is about patience, consistency, time, and most importantly, being in love with what you do. I’m ready for 2019.

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