This blog post was originally posted by Trident athlete Ericka Andersen on her site sweetlifeericka.com. She’ll be attending the upcoming CrossFit games and blogging about her experience.
Yours truly — I’m getting muscle finally!
A few weeks ago at the Crossfit Games regionals, I caught myself almost tearing up. What?! I was watching people dart up ropes, grunt and lift and sweat and curse. I was screaming for them to keep on keepin’ on! I was living through the power in their legs and the determination in their minds.
It was — and always is — inspiring. Crossfit is known not for just what the first place finishers do — but what they do for the last place finishers. It’s part of what makes us us.
At every competition, you will see the winners, the teammates, the judges, the crowds, huddled around those in last place cheering them on like they are about the win the gold in the Olympics.
For the competitor, you might think it’s embarrassing or overwhelming, but most people find it — beautiful. No one is going to feel awesome about coming in last place but there’s something about feeling like people care that you finish that matters.
I have never competed so I can’t say for sure but…I know how it feels to fail or to come in very far behind. And I know how it feels when someone puts their arm around your shoulder and tells you how hard you worked, how great it is you had the courage to try and how that matters more than anything.
When someone puts their HEART into something, you see it, you feel it. Sometimes, crossfit WODs are only 5 minutes. Sometimes, that 5 minutes takes every bit of heart that you have. Sometimes you feel like you can’t but you tell that voice in your head to shut up and do it anyway. Sometimes one more squat feels impossible but you reach in and grab it anyway.
There’s something about laboring with someone in spirit on their last reps, in last place. It’s a human connection that you can’t get any other way. When they get a “no rep” after going all the down into the squat, it’s anguishing. But when they stand up their second try even stronger, it’s exhilirating. Then, you know you can do anything — even if you haven’t done anything at all.
That’s why the last rep from the last man makes you cry.
Chriss and Andrea — the owners of my box, Trident Crossfit, basically organize the entire event and I was able to snag an entry — woo hoo! This was my first crossfit competition to watch in person and I was excited to be right next to the action!
I drove out to the event, which was in Landover, MD about 25 minutes away with Amy — who has recently jumped into the sport hardcore. She had already been on Friday but was ready to go again and I was glad to have a friend to go with.
When I arrived, I saw a ton of Trident folks hanging out and watching. I haven’t really seen many folks outside normal class time so it was nice to be social in a less structured setting. Got a shot of some of us:
All the heats I watched consisted of this WOD:
4 Rounds of:
3 rope climbs
5 squat cleans
I’m not sure what the weights were unfortunately but obviously, they were not light!
The fastest dude completed this in about 4 minutes, which is absolute insanity to me. I can’t remember the fastest girl but it must have been under close to 5 minutes.
I was just staring in awe at all the amazing, strong bodies present at the competition. I found myself wondering — what do their daily diets consist of? How much training do they do? I was mostly focused on the women, obviously, since they are kind of…my idols 🙂
Unlike any other sport (besides gymnastics), I could watch crossfit competitions for hours. You are just in the moment with them as they squat, run, jump and feel the burn. Watching these peeps push themselves up from their squats was excruciating and empowering!
And these competitors can climb the ropes like a champ. They were like fast monkeys just up and down, up and down. I recently made it up the rope all the way for the first time…so watching them complete rounds and rounds of it was humbling.
This girl had a knee brace on and still rocked it:
After watching the competition for a bit and snapping photos, I ran into Andrea (Trident owner), who asked if I could help out because they were missing some volunteers. I was more than happy to oblige and got a spot in the media tent! Plus, I got a free Games t-shirt — worth it 🙂
This pic looks a little funny because it’s from Instagram:
My friend, neighbor and crossfit buddy Rachel!
I got to stand by the announcers and it gave me a prime spot for watching the competition as well. Loved it! These girls were SO impressive — and this is only regionals. I can’t wait till I’m in California watching the final Games.
HOLD UP: BIG ANNOUNCEMENT
Oh — did I tell you yet? I’m going to the Crossfit Games!!Reebok selected me as a blogger so I’m heading there next month with them and I couldn’t be more excited! I’ll be going with Anne, Tina and Gina — woo hoo!
Obviously, this chick is a badass…like pretty much everyone else competing but I loved that I was close enough to take shots like this from the media tent. Here are a couple more:
Each competitor had their own personal judge to make sure they did every move right — lest they heard the dreaded “NO REP!” I heard several of those throughout the day and cringed every time for the person that got them. It takes a lot of energy and to no rep is a huge no-no for placing in the competition:
Let’s be honest: This girl has an fantastical booty.
I caught this couple kissing after their team won a heat. I later found out that they were a married couple on the same team — which ended up placing 3rd and earning a place at the Games:
After it was all said and done, it was time to hand out awards. I loved watching the winners come out, receive their medals and stand on their platforms. Liked this shot I took of the winning team rejoicing in their victory:
Top 3 Guys:
Needless to say, I had a great time! I only wish I could have been there more than just Sunday. However, I’ll have plenty of Crossfit fun in California. I actually have a few other tidbits to share with you about the day but have another post in mind for that.
I was raring to get to Crossfit this morning and be fierce after watching all that competition. I’ll never be a competitor but…I know I’m getting stronger. I’m lifting more on bench press these days, doing real push ups more often and just going up in weight a litttttle bit everywhere. Yay!
Like most crossfitters, I hate when I hear girls say they don’t want to do it because they don’t want their arms to get big. I’m seriously just like…bring it. Bring the muscle, bring the arms. I kind of loathe the “strong is the new skinny” phrase but at same time, I can appreciate it. I’d rather be strong than skinny — whereas in the past, it was the opposite. Hooray for body image freedom 🙂
This blogpost was originally posted by Trident athlete Ericka Andersen on her site sweetlifeericka.com.
Deadlifts? No problem.
When I was 16, something happened to me that scarred my brain for a long time. I remember it so clearly, sitting at a friends house upstairs listening to music, just hanging out — and one of the guys said to me — “You have big arms for a girl.”
Ryan was his name and that’s the only thing I really remember about him. It stuck with me. I remember the others in the group kind of laughed and were like, Dude — you don’t say that to a girl!
Another time soon after that, I mentioned to a girlfriend that I thought my arms were “getting fat” and she said, no you just have arms like Julie (another friend.) I proceeded to tell Julie that, hoping to feel validated like that was a good thing. She responded, “Oh god, you don’t want arms like me, their huge.”
And it was then that the hatred of my arms began. Until now.
What has changed? I have. What happened? Crossfit happened.
It’s not always about losing, sometimes it’s about building.
I’ve always been a cardio girl — from the beginnings of my unhealthy relationship with exercise all the way to when I found peace and happiness with exercise. It was run run run, cardio cardio cardio.
“Instead of burning everything away, I started building everything up.”
Instead of carving out 2 hours for a long run, I went balls to the wall for 30 minutes. You don’t think 3 minutes is a long time but try doing 150 wall balls or heavy thrusters followed by rounds of pull ups. The seconds don’t move fast enough!
And while I used to attend a 45 minute step class, then jog 5 miles on the treadmill — this endless flow — that’s not possible these days. I once ran 5 miles before crossfit and said — NEVER again. I need ALL my strength and energy to conquer a class.
I always wanted “skinny arms” — dainty so I looked more feminine. I was so jealous of girls who just had that, while I felt tainted with flab.
But I’m done with skinny arm envy. I looked in the mirror the other day and thought — wow, my shoulders look bigger, my arms a little bulkier. I look…strong, athletic, the anti-dainty.
125, 126, 127…
Instead of worrying my arms would look fat in my wedding pictures, I hoped they’d look strong. And guess what? I was happy with how they looked in all of the photos!
The thing is, my muscles just don’t get “cut” easily. I’m working on it, it’s taking time. And I can’t lift a really heavy weight — some may even find my weightlifting laughable.
But I don’t care. I lift things up and I put them down — and it feels powerful, exhilirating, confidence-boosting.
I can do kipping pull ups (most of the time), I’m finally working my way to reaaaal push-ups, I climbed all the way to the top of the rope and back down!
I love my arms because they help me become stronger — mentally and physically. Did I have big arms for a girl when I was 16? Probably not. Do I have big arms for a girl now? Well, maybe. But guess what? I built them that way this time around.
Thanks to crossfit, I can appreciate real physical fitness, strength and the beauty of a hard working body. And I have some great role models in the bad ass lady coaches at Trident who amaze me with their muscles every time I go! (Here’s to you Karen & Melanie — my morning ladies!)