Guys, this post was written by Kyle and it is a great opportunity to get a peek behind the curtain as it relates to the competitive side of CrossFit. So many of us see these athletes competing at Regionals and The Games but very seldom do they provide a glimpse into the mental side of their journey. Being competitive in this Sport requires a level of mental toughness that is hard to comprehend. Kyle shares his thoughts leading up to the Open and throughout his Regionals experience this year. Enjoy!
2018 CrossFit Season
This years regionals experience was amazing. It really was. I was able to actually enjoy competing. I wasn’t caught up in results, I wasn’t caught up in what people thought of me or what I was thinking they might be thinking about me. I was genuinely in the moment and working as hard as I could for me. I focused on giving my best effort and pushing myself the way I do in training everyday. It’s funny because last year, 2017, felt like a blur. I don’t remember anything really. I don’t remember the events, I don’t remember seeing the crowd, hearing the crowd, I don’t remember seeing my competition, I just remember feeling embarrassed. I remember feeling anger and frustration. I remember feeling like I let people down, like I let myself down. I do remember the pain though. For some reason all of the hype and intensity of the environment will make everything feel more painful. At least for me. After day 1 last year I remember talking to my best friend who came up to be my coach for the weekend and telling him I didn’t even want to compete on day 2, let alone hang around till day 3. It was a sad, hard experience to go through. It was an experience I carried with me all year long. I carried it with me so much so that it carried into the rest of the year in a very bad way. I went through a phase where I couldn’t sleep for a couple days at a time. I wasn’t training the way I needed to. I was dealing with an elbow issue that kept me from doing much of anything for a while. Then all of those things compounded and I got into a very negative rut. Once that happened it felt like a downward spiral. I started getting tweaks in my body left and right, still wasn’t sleeping, I was doubting my ability of future in the sport. It was almost as if I couldn’t do anything physical without getting hurt. It was terrible. This went on for the majority of the off season. I didn’t get to actually train. I tweaked my back twice so didn’t get to lift anything heavy for a long time. Qualifying for Wodapalooza was a miracle and going to compete there was the definition of shooting from the hip. When they released the events I didn’t get to practice any of them except the 4 mile run. I finished that run and realized somewhere along the way I hurt my foot. Pretty bad too. It was frustrating. Not only was I unable to get quality training in all year, but now as I’m trying to prep for Wodapalooza, I can’t even practice the events. I went down there, competed, and somehow, some way, I managed to escape Wodapalooza healthy. That was the biggest positive for me. I didn’t care much about my placement, I just wanted to stay healthy. That led into training for the open. Going into the open I did one session a day, 2 METCONs a week and did everything in my power to stay healthy. I relearned how to warm up, I relearned my cool down routines. I practiced my deadlift technique doing 50 singles at 185 not for time since I had hurt my back deadlifting. Talk about time consuming. That’s the not so sexy part of training we all have to do. Anyways, I also started journaling, and writing out positive things about the day before every single morning. I started reading books about competing and how to be a better competitor. I learned a lot about myself and about how to give my best effort. More importantly, I prayed for healing in my body. I prayed I would begin to learn from everything going on so that I could develop and grow the way I needed to. Whether that meant healing or not, I knew I needed to learn.
Anyways, all of that led into the open. Now when I tell you I was genuinely surprised to qualify again, I mean it. Everyone kept asking me, how you feeling? You ready? You feel more fit than last year? Of course all I said was “I’m ready to go hard, we’ll see what happens”. In my head though I was terrified. I almost didn’t even do the open just to take time off to recover and heal. After the first workout when I saw I was in 3rd I knew there was a chance. But man was I scared about what would come out. I remember saying I didn’t want to see chest to bar pull-ups till later in the open because my shoulder was a little messed up. I also remember saying that if we see a max lift please let it be a max clean. A couple weeks before the open I was finally able to pull heavy again, heavy for me, and hit 315 on my clean. I knew if that came out I could do decent on it. Well, as you all know, we had a max clean, and chest to bars weren’t until the 5th week. Talk about a miracle. God was listening and worked a special one. So when I qualified, I was super happy and incredibly thankful. I was also healthy at this point after 5 weeks of pushing my body. Another amazing miracle.
So we trained for regionals, we stuck with our plan of one session a day, focused on strength, and staying healthy. If I felt something off in my body I got it looked at, I handled it, then kept training. I learned how to earn my training. None of this is given, we have to earn it all, including the ability to train each day the way we want to.
So back to my experience at regionals this year. Like I said, it was amazing. I looked up this year. I looked around. That sounds weird, but last year I didn’t look around. I looked at the ground and down my lane because I was afraid others, including the other athletes were making fun of me. I thought my results were dictating the way people thought of me. I’m sure it did affect the way some people thought of me, but not the people who truly care about me and who I truly care about. It was a lie I was holding on to.
This year, I didn’t care about any of that. I went out there and focused on giving my best effort. I looked around, I studied other competitors, I acted as if I belonged there. I ran my own race and I stuck to my plan. I took it all in because the way the year went as a whole, I didn’t think I’d be there. I was going to capture every moment.
No one knows how your events went in training unless they ask and you decide to tell them. For the most part when you go out there, what people see is what they think should’ve happened. They just accept it for what it is. There are a few exceptions. Some people may know your abilities and be able to make assessments, others just text you afterward and say good job, you did awesome. Don’t get me wrong, I love those texts, I love everything people have to say good or bad. It gives me an opportunity to practice what I’ve learned and that is how to shrug off the negative and humbly accept the positive knowing that I’m only as good as my next workout. But a lot of times, there’s more to the events than just the results we see. A lot more. Therefore, it can be hard to receive a good job text when you know in your heart you left some on the table, or that you could’ve done better. You can’t control the past thought, on what’s in front of you in each moment. That’s something I’m learning more about as well.
That being said let’s talk about the events.
Events 1-3 went 100 times better than training. When I tested event 1, the TRIPPLE 3, I had never been on an air runner, so needless to say, I knew nothing about the pacing. I paced way too fast and was dead about 1 mile in. I almost walked a couple times. I finished with a very slow time. During the event, I knew I needed to keep my pace below a 9 min mile pace at the least to beat my training time. An 8 min mile pace on an assault runner is a very, very fast pace. A 7:27 pace which is what the overall winner of that event held is an incredibly fast pace to hold. When I got into the event, I was able to hover around 8:30-8:40 the whole way. Holding an 8:10 pace the last 3/4 of a mile. I finished that event much better than what I tested it at. I was pleased with it. It got me started off in 24th place. Last year I started in 39th.
Let’s not even discuss the double-unders during that event. We were stacked so close to one another we all kept tripping each other up. It was awful. A variable that was out of our control so we had to make due.
On to Event 2, which was Linda. In training, I went 16:40. The time cap is 17:00 mins. Talk about nervous. I also attacked the bench press a little too aggressive in training and had to go singles from the round of 5 down. Oh, and I got pinned with the bar on my chest during one of the reps and had to yell for help from our other coach Brent Wallbridge. It was funny, there I was sweaty, out of breath, with a barbell crushing my chest yelling “help” with broken words because my sternum was being crushed. That’s not what I wanted to have happen during training, definitely not what I wanted during the actual event. So needless to say, I was scared of this event. I came up with a plan to break my bench sets into 3 total sets through the round of 6. I knew this would set me behind a good bit but I also knew that if I could go unbroken from 5 maybe 4 down, I would catch up. Well I stuck with my plan, I fell behind, then on the round of 4 I was able to go unbroken and I also began to touch and go the squat cleans on the round of 5 to move faster as well. I caught almost everyone and finished 3rd in the heat with a time of 14:54 which was over 90s faster than training. I was pumped. That 12th place finish combined with a 24th placed me 15th overall at the end of day 1. Last year after day 1 I was 38th.
Well this one also scared the crap out of me. In training I did not even come close to finishing the event. I failed going up the steps of the HS obstacle a bunch of times. I missed the part that it was out and back going over 4 obstacles each round. I practiced by doing half of the work required, going over and back 1 ramp and still didn’t finish. I did not feel good about this event. I practiced the steps for a few weeks and got a lot better. However, I practiced completing the steps by placing one hand on the first step and bringing my other hand to meet that hand all the way up the 4 steps. A slow but effective way to do it. Well, when I got to competition, I told myself to have fun and do my best. There was zero pressure and certainly nothing to lose. I hit the first 9 muscle ups unbroken, like I planned, and then thought what the heck, let’s try for it. I kicked up into a handstand and went off it. Somehow I was able to walk up the steps a faster way placing one hand on each step and climbed more quickly than I did in training. I did that for all the obstacles and only failed 2x on the steps. I was shocked every time I made it up them like that. At one point, while inverted climbing the steps, my head band fell off my head and all of this new hair I’m growing fell right in my face. My hands kept on chugging along though getting to the line I needed to cross in order to not receive a no rep. I managed to finished the event at 11:32. I was crazy happy about that. It was a 21st place finish which bumped me down to 19 over all after half of the events. That was a good feeling. Last year at this point I was still in last place. It said 38 out of 40 but that’s because 2 people dropped out. They were injured. I was not.
Well, most of you know how this one went. It didn’t go good. My mind and body were not connected and I wasn’t able to push like I usually can. The bar felt heavy, I failed a few heavy snatches and fell way behind. Then I started getting no repped. It felt like last year all over again. I was not with it. It hurts to say that but it’s something I have to accept in order to grow from and get better. In training I went 6:30. That would’ve placed me pretty well out there. Really well. I went 8 something. I placed dead last. That hurt, physically and mentally. It was a test though. It was a test to see how much I’ve grown in a year. Would I cower over and get angry and fall apart, or leave it in the past and keep moving. I fought for the second option. I chose to keep smiling and to leave it in the past and fight on during day 2. I dropped to 23rd overall but that was still better than the year before.
I went 15:50 in training and got capped out there during this event. It placed me 22nd on that event. It kept my right at 25th. I knew it was an event I’d have to run my race during. Hand stand push ups are not my movement, they never have been. I’ve worked tirelessly on them. I came off the wall almost last. Toes to bar I made up some ground, but the bike is where I put in some work. I hopped on and sprinted through 10 cals, coasted at 425 watts to 35 cals, sprinted to about 42 cals then coasted the rest of the way. I hopped off the bike 4th in my heat after getting on there in almost dead last. From that point on I fought as hard as I could through the DB step overs. I dropped to about 8th in the heat. Then the lunges happened. The new lunges are incredibly difficult. I struggled through them. I pushed as hard as I could but could not stabilize and go. I finished 9th in the heat placing 23rd overall. It kept me at 25th again.
You gotta swing for the fences to hit a home run. That was my mentality going into this one. I decided I would go as hard as I could and see what would happen. I came out hot, real hot. I hit the first four climbs decently fast, I hit the 16 thrusters u/b. I ran back to the rope and hit the 3 climbs. At this point I was already feeling my grip disappear. But I was too deep in it now. I had to keep the pace. I got back to the thrusters and hit 6, dropped just like I planed, picked it up and went for another 6 and failed. Uh oh. I knew this wouldn’t end well. I finished the set and ran back to the rope again. At this point I couldn’t really see straight and my forearms felt non existent. I jumped up on the rope, hit my first one, hopped down, grabbed chalk, jumped up and then it went south. Way south. As I’m trying to pull up the rope, my hands were sliding down the rope, not what you want when you’re trying to go up. I failed the climb, I jumped again and failed again. I knew the workout was over at the point but I had to keep going. I got my last one, ran to the bar, knocked out my 8 and that was it. I came in 8th out of 10 people in the heat. That placed me 34th overall in that event. In training I went 4:30 on that workout. I went 5:45 that day. It was ok though. I gave my all and it didn’t pan out. It dropped me to 30th over all. The same as last year. Ouch.
I walked off the floor happy but frustrated. I wanted top 20 because I knew it was achievable but it just wasn’t in the cards this year. I was happy because I had improved from last year, not on paper, but mentally. I competed better, I worked harder, I ran my race and grew as an athlete and as a person. But it’s in the past now. I’m only as good as my next performance. So now it’s time to work. It’s time to work on everything. They say if you can focus on improving 1% every day you’ll make significant improvements over time. That’s the goal. Get 1% better every day, and give my best effort to each moment of each day. I didn’t write any of this to boast in anyway, or to sulk. I wrote it because I want to be transparent. I want everyone to be able to step inside the competition and be able to see things from the inside out. This past year was a grind, and the lord was good to me allowing me to compete and stay healthy and learn. I thank God everyday that I can wake up and fight the good fight and learn how to compete against myself more and more. That’s what it’s all about, for all of us. We have to learn how to compete with ourselves and strive for our best effort and in no way shape or form have I mastered that. I’m still learning how to do that. I also know that this year I’ll probably battle something again that’s difficult and hard but with God on my side, and love In my heart it’ll all work out.
So thank you to all of you who were so supportive. It’s always crazy to me to hear friends screaming my name, encouraging me when I’m doing well and even more crazy to me when I’m doing bad. It’s a great feeling. So to everyone who reads all of this, if I know you in some small way I’m so thankful for you and for your support.
But For now…
Till next year…