Archive | January, 2014

Battling London

Just as expected, The Battle of London was high energy, and exceeding expectations with the athletes, programming, and excellent judging staff and organization.

I learned a lot about myself as an athlete this weekend. I took 7th out of 150 individual females. I met some of the most aggressive European competitive exercisers there are, and I was impressed how much their culture has grown in just one year. It is obvious to most CrossFitters now that you can’t have lifting be a side hobby. It’s now an extreme focus, and most the men I saw looked like legit weightlifters with impeccable form and numbers. Of course you can tell who’s seasoned and who’s new, but the depth of strong people that can move weight, -and move it well, blew me away.

The arena was my favorite part of the experience. The 4,000 tickets that filled the entire sold-out Olympic Stadium, where the Handball Championships were held in the 2012 Olympic Games!

Heavy Grace, 30 Clean and Jerks for time at 80/55kg, 185/125lbs, was probably what hurt the springboard flooring. The second day because of the holes in the floor under the platforms, we were allowed to use the arena, only if we were not using any barbells. It was unfortunate but this happens at competitions often, maybe we just need to go back to parking lots, they seem to take the beating well. So the bodyweight championships began, with instead of a snatch ladder, a burpee ladder! There’s a first for everything… ever minute you moved down a chain of empty barbells and completed 3,6,9,12…. All the way to 27 hunched over burpees… and then a final amrap round if you made it there. I thought the staff did a great job making adjustments and substituting the final and keeping it exciting with a workout that began with 15 bar muscle ups!

I had made some friends from Ireland last year that I’d kept in touch with. We followed each other through the season, and we spent hours catching up over Nando’s chicken. I travel a lot, and most of the time by myself, so it’s nice to be able to connect with people, which gave me a reason to watch the masters, the men’s heats, and sit front row cheering with them. That’s what it’s all about, right? Next year if I come back for Battle Of London, I plan on scheduling a few seminars the weekend before. Then I can actually get to know the athletes and gyms in the area beforehand, and adjust to the time change for competition! I can’t remember the last time I took a nap during a competition, and during this one I took three! They were just little cat-naps, and I’m used to crazy sleep schedules, but that 9 hour time change is tough. When I woke up early on my first day of competition my mom was texting me that she “stayed up late tonight so that she could tell me good luck and to remind me to have fun!” She knows I can get really intense sometimes, but that’s the athlete part of the game, we care so much about our performance. At 3am Denver time I had done two events and was jumping as high as I could to rile up the crowd and get them to cheer for the last person getting their last reps.

One event that involved single arm KB squat cleans, and most people had never done them before. Every athlete in the warmup area trying to learn, with their coaches communicating to them in Spanish, German, Icelandic, and thickly accented English, proper form and technique. Everyone wants the edge, but each still sharing information and using tactical cues to help other athletes prepare.

Why do I like the Battle of London so much? The diversity.
The clashing of countries and languages coming together because at the end of the day, no matter where you’re from: if you love Fitness, you’re in. If pull-ups, running splits, and squat clean PR’s keep you up at night and day dreaming at the office about ‘what you’re going to do next time’ …. you’re in.

Interview at The Battle of London

I see London; I see France

“A mind that is stretched by new experiences can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Last year I was searching for myself. I was in a time where all I cared about was the next competition. I needed the high of the max lifts, time cut-offs, and speakers blasting club music as crowds of people exited the arenas shaking their heads at the next heat. The roar of the crowds kept me fueled until the next workout as I proved to myself, more than anything, that I was good enough. I earned my way to each podium, and got just enough confidence to believe…. I was good enough. I was at a time last year where I relied on that confidence builder, and London was a competition I’ll never forget because of the new experience.

At th time I had been planning my trip to the UK, I had paid for every trip on my own. I went through constant events, and saved up for the “next big thing” based off prizes from the previous competition, so when I showed up, I knew I had a job to do. If I wanted this to continue I knew what needed to happen.

Traveling to my first big CrossFit event out of the country, I knew I would be the only American. Thinking I would blend in was ignorant, I stuck out like a sore thumb. I wore shiny high tops, bright colored sports bras, had huge hair and wore Jesus shirts that I was later told was very “American… of me.” I asked questions about kilos during the briefing and they answered in lbs… they knew exactly who I was, I was that big sore thumb screaming, “I’m the odd ball.”

Spending 40 minutes at border patrol just to get into the UK, explaining that I was staying with people I didn’t know (fans/gym owners) and going to a competition of a sport I struggled to explain, I started feeling my independence. I fought through the time change, and I distinctly remember the first time meeting two of my friends, Katrina Davidsdottir and Sam Briggs.

Looking back, I remember how lame my sense of direction was, and still is. I had three choices: confidently walk in the direction I thought was right and have to retrace my steps, ask 3 strangers for direction every step of the way, or just follow the nanos. I decided to Follow the Reebok and trusted friendly strangers with crazy accents which never failed me.

Thinking to only a year ago where I starting to make a name for myself, I had just signed my first real sponsorship with NutriForce Sports. I considered myself a free agent, until all the sudden I had responsibilities and contracts, and I wouldn’t have guessed within a few months I’d sign with Reebok. Everything came so fast, and it was one of my memorable steps in the right direction that made me feel like I was entering adulthood.

My definition of Independence:
Finding who you want to be, irrelevant of who you were nurtured to be.
Being separate from the norm, not taking the beaten path.
Making decisions based on career, financial support, family.
Taking responsibility for decisions and actions, discovering sacrifice.

I can never “un-do” the experience of trusting myself with an adventure I had no reason to seek out. I’m known for making irrational decisions based on passion alone, where friends sit me down and say, “ok lets talk about why… you want to do that… let’s make a list….”

Last year I got 2nd behind Sam Briggs. If you’re unfamiliar with the way the CrossFit Games regions work, Europe is it’s own region, where the entirety of all the countries in it’s continent only qualify three men, three women, and three teams to compete in the Games. So needless to say, we have the reigning champ of the world, Sam, the prior back-to-back champion, Annie T, and the young, experienced, strong Katrina from Iceland. Some might say those spots are “written off…” But there are dark horses in Europe that are dying to break down those barriers. I saw it last year and realized, just cause I didn’t know their name at first, doesn’t mean they weren’t beating me or going to die trying.

I’m on the bus from Heathrow to Victoria, next stop Stratford where the “Battle of London” takes place and I’ll be attending the athlete briefing. Neither Katrina or Sam will be competing this time around, which means to everyone else that made it from the online qualifiers or competed last year, I might have a bullseye on my back. I can’t wait for the abrasive excitement from fans that would say my name in a crazy accent and say, “CrossFit Games? Picture? Video? Your name is German yes?! Hug?!!” And wrap me up in a humongous hug.

I look forward to the mix of Spanish, German, Italian, and English accents chanting from the crowds. This year I’m here for different reasons… but I’m still here. I know what to expect, which makes me sit on the edge of my seat and count down the ticking seconds until the 3…2….1…. here we go.