Overcoming Fears and Quieting Doubts To Live Your Best Life – My First Crossfit Competition
Last week I participated in my first ever Crossfit competition. To say I was nervous would be an epic understatement.
First of all, let me just say that I’ve been doing Crossfit since the end of October 2013, so not even a year yet. If you had told me that 1. I would ever do a Crossfit competition and 2. that it would be less than a year into my picking up this sport, I would have NEVER believed you. But just like the photo above and Justin Bieber say, “never say never.”
I honestly wasn’t planning on participating in this event until a sweet friend from our gym (or “box” in Crossfit lingo) asked me if I would be her partner for the competition and assured me that we could modify the workouts to fit our skill level. She also emphasized that she wasn’t trying to win, and just wanted a good workout and to support the charity that the competition benefited. How could I say no?
So we signed up, paid our dues, and waited.
At first, I was excited. We picked our team name (the “bar belles”), and I was more focused on designing a cute t-shirt to wear than I was on training for the competition.
Then, the workouts and prescribed weights were announced….and I started to get nervous.
The competition featured 3 separate workouts, any of which would wear me out on their own, let alone doing all of them in one day!! On top of that, the weights that they had assigned were more than I typically did at the gym.
I reminded myself that we could always scale the weights down, assured myself that it couldn’t possibly be as hard as it all sounded (they want people to actually finish this thing alive, right?) and put my worries out of my mind…until the night before the competition.
My stomach was wrapped up tighter than a ballerina hair bun. “I’m probably getting sick. Maybe I shouldn’t do this…”
I felt like I was drowning in a sea of my own doubts and fears. Surely I would die. Surely my body would just give out on me.
That night, and in the early morning before the competition, the only thing keeping me from backing out was the fact that I had a partner that was counting on me. I knew I couldn’t let her down, so I forced myself to eat my pre-workout breakfast of sweet potato, scrambled eggs, bacon, and avocado (which we researched beforehand and was delicious, by the way), grabbed my gym bag (pre-packed with all of my competition essentials which were also carefully researched and agonized over), and walked out the door.
Fast forward through liability waivers, reviewing all the workouts, and watching the first few groups go, and it was our turn to tackle our first workout for the day. This is when my fear really set in.
“What if I pass out? I think I’m hyperventilating. I can’t do this. Can I?”
But then, in a moment of grace, peace swept over me as I kicked my negative self-talk to the curb and started to speak positively (in my own head, of course), and reassured myself that I not only could do this, but I was going to kick this workout’s butt!!
At the end of the first workout, we were feeling good and we weren’t in last place! Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all! We had just over an hour until our next workout, so I chugged some protein and smiled to myself as I thought about how silly I had been to be so afraid of this.
Little did I know…the real nightmare was just around the corner.
Our next workout took place outside, which was brutal since the sun was beaming down on us from a clear blue sky. This workout included doing burpees on a black mat (cooked to perfection in the hot sun), sprints, and 25lb overhead weighted walking lunges.
The key difference in this workout, compared to the others, was that you couldn’t just switch out partners as often as needed. Each partner had to complete their part before the other could do theirs.
Just prior to the clock countdown, my competition partner boldly stepped forward and said that she would kick this one off for us. As our second workout got underway, we quickly realized just how much harder this would be than the first.
Once my partner was through with her first part of the workout (the overhead walking lunges), I grabbed the heavy plate and set off on my set.
“Maybe my cute, all-black outfit wasn’t such a good idea after all…”
The sun beat down on me as I went as quickly as I could (which, lets be honest, wasn’t very fast since I had to stop every fews lunges to give my arms and legs a break and to catch my breath).
In fear of being “no-repped” and having to step back and re-do it, I would slowly descend into each lunge, carefully tapping my knee on the pavement to ensure that it was counted. It felt like an eternity, but somehow I made it back to the start and my partner moved on to the next movement: 15 burpees on the surface of the sun (aka the burning hot black mats). She made it through hers, I did mine, and then we each did our 200 meter sprint.
That’s when our torture really began. We had to do it all over again…
As my partner descended into her first lunge, I said a silent prayer that the clock would run out before she made it back and I wouldn’t have to go again. Terrible, I know, but this workout was no joke and the pain was real. My prayer was not answered, as she made it back with time left to spare.
All eyes were on me (by this time, many of the other teams had already finished) as I made my way down the parking lot. Somehow, I made it to the turn, and as I looked back at how far I had come, knowing that I would have to do lunges all the way back, I wanted to quit.
“It’s too hard. My legs hurt too much. It’s so hot out here. Why isn’t the clock moving faster!?”
All the doubts and fears that I had about not being good enough crept back in, and I felt defeated.
I stood at the line, breathlessly contemplating how to throw in the towel, when our judge for this event (and a friend from our gym) looked at me and said “3-2-1…GO.”
Without a word, I picked up the 25 pound plate, and I took a step forward, descending into what felt like my trillionth lunge. And then I did another, and then another.
The storm in my mind cleared as I heard the cheers from the crowd and from within my own mind.
“You can do this! You’re doing it right now! Look at you go!”
Surely this is where I power through and cross the finish line, right? Wrong. After a few lunges my resolve wore off. I felt like I might collapse and looked ahead at how far I still had to go. I put my plate down, wiped the sweat from my forehead and out of my eyes, and begged my friend to grab my water.
Maybe I could kill some time (and prevent passing out in front of everyone). As she went to grab it for me, the other event volunteer supervising this event stepped in.
“I bet you can do 5 right now,” he said to me.
“I’m not sure about that, but I can probably do 3.”
“Nah. You can do it. Let’s see it. You have plenty of time to finish these.”
Greaaaaaat, I thought to myself. (Obviously not the news I wanted to hear).
But then, to my surprise (and before my water even got to me), I lifted the plate above my head and lunged forward. Then again….and again….until I realized that I refused to let myself stop no matter how badly it hurt and how much I wanted to quit.
I refused to give up, and I got back to the start with enough time left for my partner to get through some of her second round of burpees before the final buzzer went off.
Although I was disappointed that we didn’t get through the whole workout, I couldn’t help but feel proud of our effort. We may not be the strongest or the fastest team, but we’re going to do the best that we can, and that’s what we did.
We exchanged a very sweaty and relieved hug, both happy to have that workout behind us and still be standing (barely).
We had a longer break between the 2nd and 3rd workouts so that we could have some lunch and watch the kids do their own mini-competition. Prince Charming and his competition partner were anxious to hear our thoughts on our outdoor workout since that would be their last event of the day. Needless to say, I don’t think we eased any of their concerns…
I headed inside to grab my lunch, but first had to stop at the tv screens to check out the standings.
As I scanned the digital scoreboard I found our division and team name…listed in last place. “Oh well,” I thought, “good thing we weren’t hoping for a medal!”
Long story short, we powered through our final workout and finished out the competition in last place. I kept telling myself that I had just done laps around everyone else that was spending their Saturday morning sitting on the couch, but I was still a bit disappointed.
Then, I saw some friends from our gym approaching me with the biggest grins across their faces. They had dedicated their Saturday to come and cheer the competitors from our gym on, and had watched us go through all three workouts.
“Those walking lunges outside? Oh my gosh. You were my hero!”
“Uhh, I definitely don’t feel like a hero,” I thought. “Thanks!” I said with a smile.
It wasn’t until we had parted ways that I really let her comment sink in and warm my soul. I, the girl that had come in dead last, was someone’s hero?
The truth is, I accomplished something that day that goes beyond completing a grueling competition. In the midst of all of my fears and doubts, I pushed myself WAY beyond my comfort zone.
You know that feeling that you get? Let’s not call it butterflies in your stomach because we all know that’s NOTHING like what it actually feels like. It feels like the upside down spiral of a roller coaster where your stomach lifts up into your throat and you’re certain you are either going to pass out or throw up (maybe both, which would not be pretty).
I know that our gut instincts are there for a reason, but sometimes (and I’d argue most of the time) that feeling creeps up in an effort to keep us in the safe confines of our comfort zone.
“Don’t do that!” It says. “Surely this could kill you.”
Well, unless there’s a tiger in the room that’s about to pounce on you, it’s likely not going to kill you. However, it’s these fears that paralyze many, but that catapult others into greatness (but only if you’re willing to face it).
Let me be clear, I’m not touting myself as Muhammad Ali over here. I have a long way to go to really achieving greatness. But I did take one small, calculated step towards it.
So here it is, the moral of the story. The nugget of wisdom I’d like to share:
Sometimes growth is downright painful when you’re going through it. But when you acknowledge those fears and doubts and take the next step forward anyway, that is when you persevere, strengthen your character, and build toward your dreams.
I’m sure there will be another Crossfit competition in my future. I’m not sure when it will come, but when it does I will pull out my “bar belle” t-shirt, stick my sweet potatoes in the crock pot, and get ready to face my fears and stretch my comfort zone all over again.
What about you? What have you been fearful or had your doubts about, but that would truly make a positive impact in your life if you were only willing to take that next small step forward?
I want to challenge you to do it!
Make the call. Set up the coffee meeting. Sign up for the race. Do whatever it is you know you need to do (even if it’s scary or feels impossible right now) to face that fear and quiet those doubts. I know you can, and I’d love to hear about it!
Comment below to tell me what you’re facing and how you plan to do it!
I know you can do it. Ready? 3-2-1…GO!!
**Disclaimer: Maybe I’m a bit of a drama queen (ok, yes, yes I am), and I want to make sure that you know that at no point was I actually near death at this event. Nor was anyone else. I am well aware of all the criticism that Crossfit has already and continues to face, and I want to emphasize my complete trust in the coaches of our gym and the organizers of this event. All precautions were always exercised in order to maintain everyone’s safety at this event. So if you happen to be one of the Crossfit critics, comment respectfully. Please and thank you.