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Training with Pat Burke, 6x CrossFit Games Athlete

Training with Pat Burke has been the most consistent training I’ve ever had in my life. I’m used to visiting different gyms and training with different groups and people being in or out, depending on the workouts. We all assume most of us are training everyday even if we don’t see each other, but we don’t really know. I used to go from sweaty massacre to another sweaty massacre where we’d have some kind of a marathon session or big group workout, and then I would honestly rest for a while or train on my own and work on what I needed to get better. But it wasn’t consistent because if I wanted to take the time off and go “off program,” it was easy since there was no set schedule, it was just chaos. I’ll give the credit where it’s due though, and that is the training that started this fiery journey, and got me where I am today.

I remember six months ago in December when I called Pat, talking about a seminar I was teaching at his gym over Christmas break. I had already decided while I was living in Ohio that I was going to move home for the upcoming season, but had only told a few people and was bursting with excitement. I was like, “And guess what happens after the seminar?” He’s like… “Christmas?” I said, “ya and guess what happens after that….?” There was a long silence, and I broke it saying slowly, “I’M NEVER LEAVING! I’m moving back to Colorado!” He was totally surprised, I could hear it in his voice, “Well where are you going to …train… what gym are you…” I instantly said, “At your gym with YOU! Pat we’re going back to the GAMES this year man!” He just was silent for a while and said… “OH SHIT….” A few times and we laughed about how much training we were going to be doing as it all sank in. I love surprises.

His wife Janelle was very supportive about the transition, and with their 2-year old and a baby on the way, we built a schedule he could balance training and family. Looking back, she has been such a steadfast partner, and they’ve taught me so much about how caring and trusting a marriage can be.

And so the journey began, where I set out on a mission with one person with the same goal, the first time I had ever done that. No distractions, just training.

There’s something about waking up everyday knowing that someone is holding you accountable. Knowing that if I decided to take off for a few days or couldn’t make it in that he would have to do our programming by himself, or take class, and not that we’re uncapable of training on our own, but it was off the schedule. I learned that people say “Routine is the enemy” and that is true, but a routine in training is not bad. Consistency is dependable, which makes our performance dependable.

We are both very different athletes, as we all are, so we sometimes have opposite strengths and weaknesses. We have different favorites, and I began to learn how to game off him and strategize my workouts just as I would a competitor. For example, two weaknesses of mine are rowing and heavy deadlifts, they just aren’t my favorite. But he’s great at both so I knew early on in those type or workouts that I would have to either accept defeat early, and just try to stay close to him, or just stay calm and do my best… and then try to speed through the other areas of the workout to gain back some time. These are good strategies I need to develop because during competition there will always be someone better then me at a movement, and depending on when I take my breaks and when I make my moves, the experience in training will help me get a faster time, and maybe get me an advantage I can steal the lead with. We both learned to coach, and how to be coached.

Pat is a mountain man. He might as well be, anyway. A Paleolithic caveman that likes the workouts that seem like punishment… and as a natural ex-military athlete (“once a Marine, always a Marine”) he loves training with heavy sandbags and sprinting up hills, flipping heavy dirty tires and running through mountain trails with weight vests on. I remember about a month before Regionals we spent a lot of time getting mentally tough by trudging through grueling heat at altitude. Training at sea level in California for the last three years where outdoors extended to beach training or running next to traffic in the city, I wasn’t used to the mile-high elevation. Outside in the elements where there wasn’t a drinking fountain across the room, a protein shake at our convenience, or trendy music blasting from speakers to ‘keep us pumped.’ We didn’t need it. We depended on our own personal self-talk and the guidance of each other’s footsteps to find our pace.

One day of training sticks out to me that I’ll never forget. We were strapped up with 25lb and 40lb weight vests, running up a steep 600m hill to start, and then continued with rolling hills that looked over the valley of Table Top Mountain. Staying with Pat’s pace until halfway I started letting him break ahead and little by little finding a more comfortable pace. He’s a man of very few words… and all he had to do was turn around and yell, “Hey. Are you training for THE GAMES?” Eyes wide open and completely shocked that he called me out, I sped back up to his pace and my dreams and goals flew through my brain the entire way back.

Learning to ‘train uncomfortable’ has been a personal understatement. The situation and environment in competition might be less then ideal, and learning to adapt in any situation has become my hobby. Lift on uneven surfaces, maybe even on the asphalt outside where my bar rolls around and the sun is in my eyes. You don’t like that bar because it’s too thick or the texture hurts your hands? Go make yourself do an entire week’s worth of training on it so that in case it ever comes up, we’ll be ready.

When the Regionals workouts were announced we finally knew what we were getting into. Training had a direct purpose, and we right away picked out the ones that we thought we could do really good in, and the ones that were going to require the most work. Being new to the South West region made it impossible to picture what any of the other girls were capable of. It had been so long since I had trained with female training partners anyway, I could never gage how my numbers were holding up, and what I “should be capable of.”

As the weekend approached, our conversations got more concentrated and deep. I’ve always asked him questions about different Games events that I’ve only heard of or read about. We discuss how different and advanced the sport is now compared to 2004 when he started, or 2008, the first year he went to the CrossFit Games. He had come far from making it last year, and his goal was to make it back. I said, “Pat someone’s going to win every workout at Regionals. Someone’s going to win every workout. Someone will win the rope climb workout, why can’t that be us?” We agreed that we had a chance to blow up some of the events like we’d been doing in training. The confidence of pre-competition is shaky, filled with doubt, fear, positive self-talk, reminders, visions of completing every workout in the best position possible. When individuals train together, they become teammates, even though they compete individually. We called ourselves “Team Winner” (I’ve got to give Klokov props, he came up with the slogan and it just makes ya feel great).

“Team Winner!” was exactly what I yelled at him before every event as they announced the men’s heats and they ran out onto the field. I over and over was shocked at how he clearly had a “different mode” when in competition. From PRing his snatch by a gutsy 15 lbs to placing 3rd in a workout he was nervous about to winning the rope climb event, his “rise to the occasion” attitude was inspiring.

Going into the third day he was a contender for one of the three qualifying spots, and recovering from being sick as a dog. The flu had spread around and knocked out a bunch of individual athletes, staff members, and teams. He had been throwing up the entire night before, and that morning he was in the hospital getting an IV. Wondering if this was the end of the season for him, everyone was proved wrong as he sucked it up and earned a 3rd place spot on the podium. A sweet, sweet ticket to the Games. “Proven” because through all the pain and life-altering dedication, they are proven to be the best, and will now compete against the best of the best.

I’ve learned how to deal with many emotions over the last year. The lessons I’ve learned are sent straight from God, in answers to my prayers of “what I have planned.” No matter what comes my way, I’m taking it all in, and realizing what I can and cannot control as an athlete and as a woman. For right now I’m living in the moment, and training for the “next big thing,” which is something that will never end. It’s a habit, it’s a lifestyle, it’s a convincing drive that each season brings a more weathered, experienced version of myself.

I am so proud of my training partner. I’m proud of our progress, and as the weeks spill over of NPGL combine tryouts for me, and he’s on track for the biggest platform our sport has to offer, I’m glad to say not much has changed. I’m finally getting to do the “Games training,” I’ve always wanted to do, including lots of endurance, lake swimming, paddle-boarding, wall jumping, adventure races, and of course heavy heavy lifting. He mixes in some “human performance racing” fun with me for my goals, and we’re both getting “fitter” every day.

When in training, it feels like it’s all about the destination, and it wouldn’t be a journey without one. But LIFE happens on the journey, and it’s such a sweet, sweet ride. Read Pat’s story on how he came back to qualify again for this years CrossFit Games.

Andrea at South West Regionals

Watch Andrea all weekend as she competes at SouthWest Regionals in Salt Lake City Utah. The best thing is not having to wait for results- you can watch LIVE! at games.crossfit.com by clicking on the live South West link.

These are her event times:

swregionals

My stand on the NPFL

The Signature Heard ‘Round the World: CrossFit vs. the NPFL

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There are plenty of respected CrossFit athletes that plan on over-lapping between CrossFit and signing with the NPFL. It’s an opportunity to display strengths, specialized talent, and perform in an organized season of events that can be easily followed by fans.  This is not only a chance for athletes to make a living from competing, but it’s rare an Individual CrossFit Games athlete would get to have the accountability of a team at their side.

In my defense at the end of the article, (whoops!) I explained it as a “Professional spectator league for CrossFit” in a blog I wrote for my fans, and for my people! They follow my path, and they want my perspective of my experiences. I’m not the most politically correct, but I’m spreading awareness. To say we are doing “functional fitness” and not “CrossFit” at the NPFL would have just been silly and confusing.

I love this fresh and exciting advancement of our sport, and whether I get drafted and play in it, or attend events to watch my favorite athletes compete, I will be hoping for it’s success.

NPFL excitement of Days 1 & 2

 

Remember field day from elementary school? That’s basically what I’ve been doing all weekend, but field day for strong, fast grown-ups. Getting to pick strengths to “show off” and perform when we’re ready is completely different then at a competition where we’re on a scheduled time, and exposing weaknesses with a group! Because of such a relaxed atmosphere, it seemed like the “PR FRIDAY” chant we spread around caught like wildfire, and eventually revealed everyone’s best. The day flew by, as we entertained ourselves with fun races, events and challenges.

Here’s one of my first events, where CrossFit Games athlete Becca Voigt (who later ended up deadlifting 395 lbs!) and I Handstand walked against each other so we could get a competitive distance in 60 seconds. We went all the way across the field and back, and were only beat by Kristen Clever!

I love this video because it showed the ENERGY of the day. Notice a few things: Kris, Courtney and Pam sneaking up behind me during my interview… being clowns. The video showed my OHS PR, and on my missed jerk I was fine, it didn’t even sting! Even though it might look a little shocking. My favorite was the max gymnastics events in 90 seconds where I won the 15″ rope climbs and also the muscle ups.

The second day was intense, because the boys’ field was going to be cut in half after all the coaches made their selection in who was going to be invited back for Sunday. The final day was going to be a showcase of teamwork talent, guided by certain coaches, to see who is able to best deliver and serve their team. One of the standout performances I remember that were really fun to watch were Ronnie Teasdale and Pat Burke (both my old and new training partners) tying to win the rope climbs. Noah Olsen stringing together 22 muscle ups in a row, it was truly amazing the way he didn’t even need to catch himself in the dip. My friend Wayne Willette got 345 lb Clean and Jerk, while still being able to do 50 HSPU in 90 seconds.

The professionals signed athletes of the LA Reign were flown out to socialize and hang out with everyone and watch their lifts. It was a surprise to me that a few had already signed, because it was kept secret until they showed up today all wearing their team gear. Lindsey Valenzuela, Tommy Hackenbruck, Kenny Leverich, Becky Conzelman, and Elizabeth Akinwale are all signed by coach, Dusty Highland, so it was great to see everyone!

What’s the National Pro Fitness League?

National Pro Fitness League
NPFL Combine

I flew to Los Angeles this weekend to participate in the first of the National Pro Fitness League’s Combines. The National Pro Fitness League is made up of five teams with 14 athletes each, picked from all over the nation. Some athletes are already signed and many more are trying out at the combines in Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta and Boston. We had to register, and then be invited to participate, and the athletes that make it past the Friday/Saturday tests make it to the finals and perform on Sunday. Eventually, the signed athletes will join teams and will battle other teams in the league. It will be a live spectator sport built for the off-season of CrossFit. I love team workouts, as that’s how I first made it to the Games in 2011, so I’m thoroughly excited about working together and having accountability and support from teammates from all over the place!

Attending a combine and trying out in front of coaches takes me back to running Track & Field in high school and looking to get picked up by colleges. Using all of our hard work in training for years to add up to this one moment and test of our fitness. We can’t “get stronger” now, we can’t “get faster” now, this is not training; we’re all here for the test. I’m trying to stay positive and remind myself I’m here to have FUN, and no matter what, I know it will be a great training opportunity

It makes me even more nervous because it’s not a competition. It’s based on a coaches perception of what our potential is, based on the performance of one day. There will be no winner, or competing with each other, it’s instead a huge venue packed in with people that are testing their skills “whenever they want” over the course of 8 hours, knowing their scores will be analyzed. Another thing they’re looking for is if we would be good teammates. There’s a lot of compromising and strategizing on teams, and it takes a special athlete to mesh well with team competitions.

My training partner, Pat Burke and I flew out to Los Angeles to go to the first combine for a few reasons. Who doesn’t like California and it’s gorgeous weather? As we were pulling away at the airport we were looking out the window at all the snow everywhere and I said, “Wait, are you sure? You sure you don’t want to go back to the gym and train in this?” We were ready for some sun! Another reason I wanted to come to this one is because of all my friends that are trying out too. I miss my communities in downtown LA, West Hollywood, Studio City, and Lawndale, and even though I won’t be able to visit the gyms, it will be nice just to be around my friends. This state is such a big part of who I am, it feels so good to be here.

Pat’s a 5x CrossFit Games athlete, and has been in the Marines and competed at the highest levels of our sport year after year. He’s what we call an “OG” an original gangster, meaning his experience level is pretty decorated. I’ve learned so much from him since I moved back to Colorado in December, so getting a chance to compete with him will be new and exciting. I hope if this all goes well and we end up signing with teams that we make the same team, but anything could happen in the draft. If not, it’ll just make our daily training sessions that much more competitive!

These are the workouts:
Max Lifts:
OverHead Squat
Front Squat
Clean
Clean and Jerk
Jerk
Snatch
Deadlift
Press
5 Rounds for time:
12 Power Clean (155/105)
6 Push Press (155/105)
7 min AMRAP
20 thrusters
20 bar facing burpees
Max Reps in 60 sec
farmer’s carry
handstand walking
Max Reps in 90 sec
muscle up
HSPU
pistol
box jump
chest to bar pullup
double unders

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

Mind-set can move Mountains

thegirls

Now, I’m not known for my strength ladders. I’d say I’m actually known for my lack of performance in strength ladders. As long as there are plenty of events, I can usually make it back to the podium, but sometimes it plummets me in the rankings; leaving me wishing I had been more prepared. Getting used to the pressure of the time limit is unlike training: there are rules, judges, competitors, and all eyes are on the athlete to assume whether or not they’ve been practicing enough for “the test.”

It’s no secret… I love to compete. So I test myself on a regular basis to keep me on my toes and keep me … locked in. Almost every CrossFit competition these days has a strength ladder where everyone’s lined up to lift each bar until they’ve reached their potential.

Most often I get done with these 1-reps and turn to my coaches after with very little to say. There’s no… I should have… or this happened… or excuse that will make me feel better, which derives from disappointment. Wondering if it was a frame of mind, a lack of warming up, or just a mystery strength curse that makes me feel like a weak twig that just buckles under the pressure of heavy weight…. Is left unanswered.

Tonight was different. I have never been in a ladder like the one the Granite Games kicked off their entire event with. It was a double snatch ladder, so to go on to the next level you had to hit two lifts in 40 seconds, and then on the top of the minute, went on to the next station- always 10 lbs up. When warming up me Maddy and Michelle Kinney were joking about… ‘ya whenever I get to a heavy shaky double, I always go up by 10 lbs!’ As I was noticing Elizabeth Akinwale and Michelle Letendre do their thang in the warm-up tent as I watched my max be thrown around like a toy. But the rules are the rules- and every competition is different, that’s why we are trained to be resilient as CrossFitters. It’s a part of our lives to be “ready for anything,” which means we have no guess at what could be thrown at us and what could be ruled out.

As a mental strategy- I always convince myself my ceiling is higher than it is. The game I play is that my max is higher than I’ve actually ever gotten so that when I reach my 80%, 90%, 95% in training or competition, I keep my nerves down. I just haven’t hit it YET… but will.

Tonight was different because I actually tricked myself!

The weights were displayed not on Games standards like 120, 130, 140, but true to the 33 lb bars as in 118, 128, 138… etc. We started the ladder at 118, and after the Star Spangled Banner I was one of the first on the bar. Usually I’m waiting timidly behind my judge and waiting for him to tell me I have to go on and… I have to make the next lift. It was always a punishment. ‘Great now heavier… ok I’ve made this before…but ok the last one felt heavy….’ The words present or eager have never described me while I finish a typical 90% lift, knowing my personal records usually come in training not competition.

This RUSH of wanting to bite at the next weight came over me! I was DYING to get past my judge to get to the heavier bar. I was surprised at how slowly they counted down the transitions and was fuming to break down my own personal ceiling. Snatching each weight for 2 as I went up, I came up on my 100%. I turned to the crowd, (naturally hating to keep secrets) and pointed to the next bar and said my PR! They stood on their feet and yelled as I attempted my 1-rep max and nailed it. As I finished the 2nd one I could barely believe it! I advanced to a bar I had never even visualized myself standing up successfully with; attempted and failed ….but couldn’t stop smiling!

The surprise and happiness doesn’t come from numbers, how good it was, or where I placed. It’s from finally believing in myself when it counted, in an area where my MIND is WEAK.

If CrossFit wasn’t a “sport”…. And it was simply a workout to master on different levels on my own account, nothing would change in my training. I would of course still work day in and day out to be the best athlete I could be and fully ‘enjoy the ride.’

But CrossFit IS a sport. We can measurably rank ourselves and compare our programming, natural athleticism and our dedication to training weaknesses. With this privilege we feel the success not in comparison to each other, but while we demand the consistency of ourselves for ‘the test.’

“You’ll always be what you’ve always been if you always do what you’ve always done.”

CHANGE IS GOOD.

CrossFit in South Africa


From the time we entered the competition stage that was decked out in Reebok flags and banners, equipment, pull-up rigs, and barbells neatly aligned everywhere, I knew this was going to be different from what I expected. Not that I expected it to be out in the wilderness with tree branches for pull-ups or anything- but I wasn’t ready for this kind of hype in South Africa. Considering their entire continent only gets 1 representative male and female athlete, and one team, I just figured that gyms were far and few between and that the participation wasn’t high compared to the United States.

The small arena was in the back of a humongous shopping center and had waterfalls and big buildings on one side, and a pond backyard on the other. I immediately took note of the athletes warming up and how their bodies were typical of the CrossFitter type, strong shoulders, defined arms, lean torso, huge quads… and thought, ‘Man, they’re making it happen all the way out here!’ Since the teams were made up of 3 boys and 1 girl, it probably made it easier to find people that could do the recommended weights and movements, considering there are less women that feel confident competing. They had everyone in the same division doing moderate weights and even high skill movements like bar muscle-ups! I was impressed with the females that would explain to me that it was their first time competing, and I wouldn’t have even been able to tell! A big group of members from a gym were telling us that Africa doesn’t receive ESPN 1 or 2, so during Regionals and the Games, they would have entire gyms meet up and watch every single live-stream event. They were that interested, and were dying to follow along– Now that’s dedication!

What most people probably don’t know, is that this was a really random group of competitors Reebok put together and invited to compete. Even though some of us had met briefly before, we were all pretty much strangers. Spencer Hendel ended up sitting next to me on our 15 hour flight… so we got to know each other! All Games athletes, Annie Thorisdottir, 2011 and 2012 CrossFit Games Champion, was with her boyfriend Frederik Aegidius from Europe, Daniel Petro from South Atlantic, and Marcus Hendren from the North Central region.  Carla Nuna de Costa is the only female that qualified to the Games from Africa this year, and of course she welcomed us with open arms, which is apparently what everyone does here in “S’Africa” because they want to make sure you’re enjoying their country. We instantly all meshed the day before competing, training at CrossFit Platinum together. Since then, it seems like all we do is tell jokes, laugh and make fun of each other as if we’ve known each other for months, rather than days.

Over the intercom, the announcers reminded the crowd that “The International Team has competed at the highest level.” We were more of a show-case team where we had 6 athletes instead of 4, and as Annie is coming back from an injury, she was careful not to participate in the wods she thought would bother it, so sometimes we only had 5. We were training just as hard together as if we could have actually won prizes, and the athletes were trying their hardest to battle! We received sets of shirts from ReebokSA that had the competition logo with our last names. “AGER” was written down the sides and across the back, and it reminded me of a uniform, my first official CrossFit gear as an individual, pretty special. At the end of the day we handed out the check, and were shaking hands as the team members climbed up to the podium.

After that, Daniel and Spencer decided they wanted to do some public strength training. As they started warming up snatch, the crowd that was on their way out circled around them very close, as they went up. They both were hitting numbers easier than usual, and the crowd was getting so excited as they got closer and closer to maxing out their very impressive 1 rep maxes. As the crowd was calculating up the kilos and converting them back and forth into pounds, the crowd went nuts as Spencer snatched 286 lbs easily, then put it on his back and went for a snatch balance where he stayed at the bottom for a while, and then threw the bar up into the air. I think that might have been some people’s favorite part of the weekend!

Getting to know the athletes and fans from the Big 5 Showdown was the best part of the weekend. The Reebok crew was more than gracious, and we felt so taken care of. Whether I was on stage competing, signing Olympic Lifting shoes, or smiling for pictures, I think the thought entered my head every 10 minutes…. ‘Why me? Why us…? How on earth did I get this opportunity to travel to a country I probably never would have gotten to see on a whim and get invited to compete with the highly talented and accomplished athletes I’ve always wanted to meet?’

Iceland Annie and Ager

Marcus said it right as we were all admiring in disbelief that we were in actually in South Africa…. doing what we all love.

“Sooooo…. I guess that CrossFit thing paid off!”

Yea… you could say that.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain ~

 

Life Experience at Summer Crush


The workouts of the Summer Crush are always very creative and exciting for the spectators to watch. It was a fun event, but I had a big take-away from this weekend that sticks in my brain that actually had nothing to do with competing for the podium. By the end of the weekend I was touched, and reminded why… we train this hard. Even though we set out to becoming physically fit, we dig up impressive lessons by becoming mentally stronger.

Head to head
I think the driving force behind the ‘tournament style’ competition they held where we faced and battled against just one individual at a time was because they wanted to rile up the crowds. Imagine this, there’s a heat full of 8 women in the “semi-finals”, doing barbell workouts facing each other. The pressure that’s put to ‘pick up the bar’ is entirely different than just ‘doing your best.’ Out of 8 women, if the person that gets 1st, is paired up with the girl that finishes 2nd, that 2nd place athlete still gets knocked out of the competition bracket and is done for the day because they didn’t beat their match-up! There was one that sticks out to me that was extremely stressful because we were neck and neck the entire time. At the end, I only finished 1 and a half reps in front of her, after she had been slightly setting the pace the entire workout. The whole crowd was going insane, and since she was local a lot of them were standing, cheering both of us on!

As the top ranked seeds were matched up with the lowest seeds, my first two partners later told me that it was their first RX competition ever, and that they were so happy they got a chance to go as fast as they could and show what they were made of!


There were 1000 athletes competing in this one competition. Spectators filled the stands of a hockey arena and watched as the 3-person girl teams and 3-person boy teams went at the same times as the masters, amateur individuals, and professional individual divisions competed. As a pro athlete, I got to watch a lot of my friends go throughout the day. Some competed Friday, and set the bar for the scores and times to shoot for in the workouts and then got a day off Saturday. Then some competed Saturday and got a chance to beat Saturday’s times and then make it to Sunday where the top 32 of each division got seperated into brackets depending on how they stacked up.

As I continued to make it through the backets to the end of Sunday, I found myself in the semi-finals, the “final four” professional women…. against 2013 CrossFit Games’ 6th Fittest, Jenn Jones. It was a workout with rowing, deficit parallette Hand-stand Pushups, and Over-Head Squats at 115 lbs.  She beat me by a rather large margin, and went on to compete in the finals and win overall, as Summer Crush Games brought out one of my biggest weaknesses. There’s not much I could do when my body was pushed to the max after TEN workouts over the course of one weekend, and I was pushing myself near failure on every single HSPU.  I was happy to finish the long first round, do all 12 OverHead Squats unbroken, and run to the rower again as the time-cap buzzed. When I got interviewed by Fox Sports right after that, they kept asking me if it was something I was going to start implementing into my training. I laughed! I said this is no surprise, I work on these every single week for the last year, because it’s something that just deserves a lot of my training time, is hard work, and I can always improve on.  Assuming an athlete ‘wasn’t prepared’ is interesting…. I would say I over-prepared myself for knowing how they would feel in a big competition setting, but if every movement came easily– let’s face it, this sport would be pretty boring!

What Would Andrea Do?
My favorite part of the day was when these two young girls came up to me and all my friends that were sitting with our coach, and watching on Saturday. I was actually listening to see if any of the top girls would beat my score from the previous day, curiously watching as they finished. The two ‘fans’ were over-whelming with Oly shoes in their hands, and sharpies, and asking if I’d sign the tip of their Adipowers. I am always thrilled to be a little reminder for them to work hard when they look down during strength training. But they also had these matching shirts on, and one in their hands as they were handing me everything they said, “and this is for you… look at what it says!” On the front it had a cool logo of their box in a big revolving circle. Across the back it read, ‘WWAD’ and they told me excitedly that it meant, “What would Andrea Do.”

I will never get used to this platform. God deserves the biggest platform possible. Remembering the days I wore ‘WWJD’, “What would Jesus Do?” bracelets for summers on end, I realized how much of a responsibility I have to spread positivity.

I can’t imagine a day when I’ve accepted it as normal to sign autographs and take pictures and get authentically hugged by strangers that have tears in their eyes that represent… hope… confidence… and change.   I am reminded constantly that fit, strong, women can inspire so many to push through their own limitations to find they are capable of anything.  I think of myself as a spiritually advancing project who on pace grows physically stronger,  but only by my dedication to following Christ and to Glorify God. I truly rejoice  for the opportunity He gave me to touch people’s lives daily, even if it’s something as insignificant as a picture, a gesture, a conversation, a friendship, I know it goes a long way.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for man.”
Colassians 3:23