As soon as Dave Castro came over to our team and let us know that he was about to announce us as the” 2016 CrossFit Games Affiliate Cup Champions,” I couldn’t hold it together any longer. Until that moment, my team had hardly seen me display any excessive emotion. I rarely get angry or frustrated during training. It takes a lot to disrupt my focus during competition and I have a pretty good hold on my emotions, not allowing them to get in the way of how I train or compete. Until that moment, I had held it all together and completely focused on each workout, one at a time.
In that moment, everything came flooding back to me. The moment I broke my back. Collapsing underneath a heavily loaded barbell. Not walking for a week. Getting x-rays and and MRI and being told that I would never squat again. Deciding to fight. Qualifying for the 2013 Games as an individual. The 2015 Games that destroyed my body. Having to make the decision to back out of individual competition for 2016. Getting an invite to compete with Mayhem. Finding happiness in CrossFit competition again. All of it. I was overwhelmed and I couldn’t hold back anymore.
My team, the champions that they are, were completely cool, calm and relaxed as they accepted their recognition for the second year in the row. I, on the other hand, cried and just walked around in disbelief that I really was in this position. I had dreamed of being a games athlete, but honestly never thought I would be able to call myself a games champion. Until then, I don’t think I ever believed that it could actually happen. I was so blessed to be in that moment, with the amazing group of people that I got to share it with.
I got hugs, love and high-fives from my teammates once they realized how emotional I had become. I wish, at that time, I had the words to thank them for giving me the chance to help this team accomplish another 1st place finish.
For the last couple years, as the sport got more competitive, I have had to be extra careful with my body and pay close attention to how I was training and how my spine was responding to the increase in volume. I have an ultimate goal of longevity in the the sport of CrossFit, as well as a long and healthy life. I was, and still am, not willing to risk that health for competitive success in CrossFit. After competing in the 2015 games as an individual I thought, for a couple months, that my competitive CrossFit life was over. The volume and intensity of the individual competition had taken a huge toll on my body and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to compete safely for another year.
Shortly after that I met the members of CrossFit Mayhem (you can read about that whole journey here) – and they graciously and quickly asked me to become the 6th and final member of their already proven championship team. I was a little overwhelmed, but also excited and extremely nervous to get the year started.
At that time- I was not completely confident that I was going to be the person that they needed to win it all again. What if my back flared up? What if there are GHD sit-ups and I have to go slow? What if there is a one rep heavy overhead squat and I couldn’t lift heavy weight? I thought they would be so disappointed in me. I was so worried about letting them down, and having them question the decision they made inviting me into their champions club.
Finally, on Sunday of the Games this year, all of those uneasy thoughts melted away. I was no longer the individual athlete that was happy just to have survived without further injury. I was no longer the athlete that tried to be happy walking away from the games with her 20th or 30th+ placement finishes. I was no longer the athlete that questioned if I even belonged in the competition amongst these insanely fit people.I got to walk away on Sunday with a gold medal around my neck, a first place T-shirt on my chest, and five amazing teammates that believed in my abilities despite my injury. They believed in me and allowed me to completely and wholeheartedly believe in myself. That moment was the pinnacle of defeating my injury. The moment that Dave announced us was the surreal moment that I finally felt I had officially overcome all doubts and limitations and felt I had reached my potential.
I don’t think I will ever be able to match that feeling again – but I never want to. That moment was the culmination of 5 years of extreme highs and lows. Numerous moments of confidence boosters only to be shot down by more injuries. Constant preparation and nervousness every day of training, dull self-doubt in myself and my abilities and endless silent worry by my loved ones. 5 years of unknown all silenced by that moment.
I ultimately believed that I was strong enough to do it. So I did it.
CrossFit Mayhem Freedom. 2016 CrossFit Games Champions.