Or should I say “Its been fun?”. Its midnight on a Saturday night as I can’t sleep and have a lot on my mind. Its been a busy week. Heard an influential podcast about having what it takes to compete by AJ Roberts on Barbell Shrugged, watching the 2014 documentary on the Crossfit Games, got in an argument with my wife, got a fearful warning letter from a close family member, and had a member give me some impressive insight.
I have to say it happened last year at regionals. I saw that as the years passed I started getting pretty good at this. As we competed I thought that with another year of training experience we could do even better. I decided to start taking training to the next level, give the game one more shot. In the beginning I was feeling pretty good. Getting some good gains, which is impressive for someone who is as old as me and been at it this long. After a couple months things started really start moving well. Then things started getting shaky. My training started affecting our social life and family outings. I have a very understanding wife, who puts up with a lot from me. I would prioritize my sleep or recovery over a late night out with friends.
Early on in the week I was listening to AJ Roberts speak about how when he got into Crossfit he thought that year one he would do the open, year two regionals, year three the games. He thought that because he was already such a strong athlete that he could be competitive with a little work in the sport of crossfit. The more he did it, the more he realized he was wrong. The people in the game now dedicate their entire lives around getting better, and they are already the best at what they do. They get to where they have gotten for the sacrifices they are willing to make. Some thoughts of doubt start to set in.
I then watched the latest documentary by Crossfit HQ, 2014. This follows some top level athletes from the early times at the ranch, to the last games. Firstly watching the evolution from the small time competition of yesteryear on the ranch, where if you show up and pay the entry fee you can compete, to now where there is a worldwide ranking system and I can’t even beat the masters women in some areas of the world. I remember getting into Crossfit to make me better at life, ayond a really fun way to do it. When the games was like a local comp, now even the local comp has online qualifiers.
You have to know your role. For those who know me, know that I know squat about sports, so this sports analogy is probably messed up, but bear with me. The way Crossfit has evolved, it is now two completely different areas. There is the competitive side, the “sport” of Crossfit, this is like Major League Baseball, and now there is the recreational Crossfit for “health” which is like a weekend slow pitch tournament. Both similar, but very different. You have to know where you stand, if you have to question your judgement, then it is the “health” side, because that means that you know so little of what is required to get to that other level.
My mom is not a woman who is afraid of saying what she means, true she can be very passive aggressive at times. She recently sent me an email. First thing I thought was, ugh, another email to clog up my inbox, I’ll delete it and let Steph deal with it. Then I saw my name written in some of the text. I better read this. Basically my mother in not so many words told me I was being a shitty husband, a shitty father, shitty son, and shitty all around person, told me I should blame it on drug withdrawals, and to get professional help. Love ya mom. If you can’t learn from that. This had my head reeling for most of the day.
I get another email from a long time member. She said she’s leaving. This comes as a shock. I want to deal with this properly, so I tell myself I will respond to the email when I get back home this evening. After having spent the morning lounging around with my son I head into the gym to train. The workout was an “open test” basically a well designed beat down of a workout that should test your across all capacities find your areas of weakness. I finished the workout, just ahead of Taylor. I should have been faster, he’s catching up. Or am I slowing down. In the post workout agony rolling around, Taylor yells out that he’s not ready for the open. I think toughen up, I think that every year but I make it through it. Then I think, maybe he’s right. All this for what. A knee that aches all the time, bruises, torn hands, torn muscles, pushing through gruelling days when even holding an empty bar feels heavy. Sacrifice, over working, more sacrifice. Know your place. For what.
Its hard to give up a coach. Its someone you develop a relationship with, someone who strives to see you grow stronger. Every once and a while we get a great one that comes in. We cultivate the talent and try and send them out to the big leagues. The big training camps where only the best of the best compete. Know your place. We are the Crossfit for health, not for sport.
Oh yes, the email from the member. We have a brief back and forth about why she made the decision to leave. Turns out she might have what it takes, she’s going up the the next league to play with the bigger fish. I guess I should be proud. It still hurts. Its hard to not take it personally. She mentioned about my not being present at the gym enough, thinks I was being selfish. There has been a lot of women yelling at me this week. At first my wife, then my mother, now this girl via email. Maybe they are on to something.
I don’t remember much from when I was a kid. I don’t know if that is a good thing, or a bad thing. I try and remember memories of when I was my sons age. What will my son remember of his father. The guy who’s always working on his phone and dealing with email on the computer. The guy who’s spends an hour every night doing tissue work like foam rolling or massage, plotting his training graph, logging his food journal, going over tomorrow workout strategy, to work on his soft tissue recovery. The guy who sends his wife and son in the airport alone so he can skip the flight and do a competition. Yes I told you, most tolerant wife ever. Plus it was her birthday. Yes, amazingly still married.
Where this sport will take us in many years, who knows. Will I be telling stories to my son saying how I used to be kinda good at this Crossfit thing, and he hardly believe me. Saying how I used to own a gym in the same town as someone who went to the Crossfit Games. Saying how I used to be on a first name basis with some pretty big names in the industry.
This years Open changes brought some interesting twists. In the beginning it left a bad taste in my mouth. I have been competing in the open since my second year doing it, and I have made it to regionals every year since then. But maybe I shouldn’t have. Its gone past the days of the throw downs at a ranch. They want to differentiate further between Crossfit the sport. So only the best of the best are going to get a chance now. I never went into regionals thinking we were going to win. Ok, maybe the first year. But that shows how little I knew about the sport, and how fast the sport has evolved. But now I don’t even have the opportunity to play with the big boys. If I want to go watch? I have to drive 9 hours to go watch an event where the athletes are treated like super stars signing autographs. Really, autographs. You workout really fast for money, and not much of it. I wish I knew more about sports because I could probably use some analogy of how some sport was more pure back in the good old days.
1 pound of almond butter later and an hour has ticked by as I pour my brain out. I started off just wanting to get some ideas out. It started slow, in the beginning, not sure what to write. Then everything just started to pour out. I won’t re-read this, I won’t edit it. I will let my wife proof-read it first to ensure that I didn’t say anything that would be offensive. Basically a brain dump. For you and for me. I can hopefully re read this in the future to myself and understand completely my decision making process in this. I can possibly talk myself out of making stupid decisions. If not I have enough women in my life to yell at me.
For those who know me, I’m a huge Rob Orlando fan. Coming from a strongman and powerlifting background I had an immediate liking with Rob as an athlete, watching videos of him on Youtube. We booked tickets to the games one year and I met Rob at one of the booths. He seemed like a really nice down to earth guy, and invited me to try out one of his strongman clinics. This was before Crossfit was recognizing the course. My wife and I drove down to Hybrid Athletics and we worked out with about 30 people in a dungy gym in a basement. Flipping dirty tires covered in chalk and sweat. We drove back with a tiny Honda Fit jam packed with equipment that we could train with. We kept in touch, I went back to take the course again after Crossfit Recognized it. It was just as fun as the first time. About a year later I get an email form Rob asking for me to help with running the Strongman seminars in Canada. I was ecstatic. This was a high point of my career as an athlete, or was it as a coach, whats the difference.
I watched every games Rob was a part of. I really like when how in the last year, even after being disqualified on the first event, he asked to continue to compete “just for fun”, then proceeding to push press for 8 what a workouts final rep only 1 jerk was needed “for style points” describes his character. He is a successful business man, happily married, great kid, and looks really happy. I asked him why he stopped competing. What he said rang true, its also what Rich Froning and Jason Khalipa said in that documentary. Business, family, personal, sport. Something has to give. Rob wasn’t willing to sacrifice anymore. He knew he was probably still capable of competing, but something else would have to give.
Maybe this is an early midlife crisis, how easy is it to take a step back as coach only. No one like to see themselves as the old guy, but then again, no one wants to be the old guy still sadly performing a sport with decrepit form because they love it.
I feel like I was capable of so much more, if only these things would stop slowing me down. Things like a wife, a child, partaking in the raising of said child. Then realizing that you were being a huge douchebag. I hate to disappoint people, feeling like I am letting down my coach, after building such a great relationship with him in the past year. Again, know your place. He’s a great coach, loved the programming, amazing results. I went further than I ever thought possible. He’s like the baseball coach who takes your up from the minors into the league before major league. Again, i don’t know sports. But realizing that disappointing a coach for not living up to your potential is bad. Disappointing your son for not living up to the potential of being a father is worse. I bit off more than I can chew working with him. Know your place. Again not realizing what it takes to get where you want to go.
So I guess this is where I announce my retirement. If I ever decide to do something like this again, remind me that I’m too told for this shit. Im doing regular crossfit for fitness, doing the class workout, and only the class workout. Having fun. I have made the decision of what matters to me. Its hard to set limits on yourself when you are a competitive person. But we have to realize even as a competitive person, its a big world, and the internet brings us all very close together.
There will be changes coming to how the gym operates as well. We started off in 2012 not really knowing what we were getting into. Its about knowing your place. We know have a more clear sense of direction, lets get it back running how it supposed to.
So needless so say. I will be doing the open, only because it is the programmed class workout. No retakes, last time. Only 5 more weeks of this left. Still undecided if I will even enter my score. I started Crossfit somewhere in 2010 for a few way to keep fit, got competitive in 2012, went to regionals 3 times, then retire from competition in 2015. Its hard to
Yours in fitness,