I have spent the last 5 years chasing the dream of qualifying for the CrossFit Games. It has been an incredible journey, one in which I was able to learn a lot about myself and my motivations behind this lofty goal. I think back to when I first started working towards this goal in 2010 and tried to remember what made me want to make all the sacrifices that would surely come if I decided to seriously persue this dream. I remember when I first started CrossFitting and being told that I would certainly love this Sport but because of my size and my age, I would never be able to compete at the level of the Games Athletes. I spent the next 5 years trying to prove that statement wrong, coming extremely close on more than one occasion. The amount of blood and sweat that is necessary to be competitive at that level in this Sport is mind blowing.
Over the last 5 years, my body has taken a pretty good beating and at almost 35 years old, I sometimes have the feeling that more harm is being done than good. Any time you take something to an extreme, you risk losing the benefits from that particular sport/discipline. If people want to be competitive in CrossFit, there is no other option outside of extreme dedication. Nutrition, training, and recovery have to be 100% dialed in or else you have lost before you had a chance to get started.
Almost 2 years ago, I stopped ignoring the symptoms that something was wrong with my body. After 9 months of going to the bathroom 12-14x/day and at least half of those containing blood, I decided that it may be smart to get checked out and stop pressing so hard in my training. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis as most of you know and I spent the next year working and a half on getting the symptoms under control with hopes to have some more time to chase after my dream before my window passed. Around the middle of 2014, I had finally started to have some success and was following a treatment plan that had all but eliminated my symptoms related to UC. There would still be a few flare-ups but all in all, it was night and day compared to what I was dealing with before treatment. At the time, I was excited because I thought I had found the best of both worlds, the answer to clearing up my symptoms, and the ability to continue to compete. I prepared for the 2015 season with more motivation and excitement than ever before. Not having to deal with the symptoms as I went through the Open and Regional Prep was like Christmas morning every day.
I qualified for Regionals and was excited to have another shot at competing for one of the 5 spots from our Super Region. It ended up not working out but I was content with how the year played out and how my UC responded compared to previous years. Unfortunately, about a week ago, I found out that an exit drug test that I had taken following Regionals turned up results that were not accepted in the CFHQ rulebook. This was brutal news because I thought I had found the solution that would allow me to control my disease while at the same time keeping me within the parameters of the Testing policy and would allow me to continue what I loved doing. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Although I was as transparent as possible with HQ during the 2015 season, I understand their decision and accept that they have to do what they think is right to preserve the legitimacy of the Sport. As tough as it is to fall short of this goal, I have met some awesome people because of it and have pushed my body further over the past 5 years than I ever thought possible. I am unwilling to risk going back to the drawing board and starting over with different medications and treatment protocols that will surely send me back to the days of running to the bathroom. I was told over a year ago that if my colon doesn’t heal, the possibility of losing some of it would become very real. That is a risk I won’t take, no matter how much I want to make it to The Games. I will continue to let my gut heal up and try this new, “let’s just have fun with CrossFit” mentality. Not sure how that is supposed to work but I am sure I will figure it out.
I will certainly miss looking out in the crowd at Regionals and seeing the sea of support from everyone at Vitality but it will also be nice to find the “balance” in my life that I recognize I haven’t had over the past 5 years. Who knows, now I may find myself coaching a few 515a classes with all this extra time on my hands:)