On Saturday, December 8, 2012 from 10 – 3pm a group of athletes, peers and friends came together to compete, cheer, coach, volunteer and encourage one another for the ACF 2nd annual Strongman Competition.

I placed third overall in my weight class. Upon hearing my name I sprinted to the corner of the triple-wide, lept up over the kegs and claimed my place on the podium.

top 2

The day’s first event was the max axle deadlift. The axle bar is a Strongman staple. I had a personal PR of 280lbs. on my deadlift today with the axle bar. There’s something that happens when it’s your turn to compete and you step up onto the mat, nod to the judge, and its 3, 2, 1… Go! I know recently I’ve been having some second thoughts about competing. But there was something in the air on Saturday, maybe it’s simply the mood of Strongman, relaxed, controlled, comfortable, encouraging, steady. This translated into the events themselves. I didn’t feel the usual nausea associated with competing. I simply felt like, I got this. Even on my lesser feats, like only 3 reps on the overhead log press at 90lbs. It was all simply okay. Perhaps the only true way to know if competing is for me is to compete in an actual Crossfit Competition, which has yet to happen.

Much more was gained throughout the day alongside personal bests and Doing when you think you simply cannot. When you’re not on the floor competing, there’s a lot of cheering, sharing stashes of beef jerky, and catching up with fellow athletes.

New and old friendships are made and strengthened.

As the hours passed us by I learned the heartbreaking news that a fellow athlete’s mom was just diagnosed with cancer. The athlete dropped out of the competition, but took a break from being at the hospital with her mom to stop in and cheer on her peeps. It was another competitor’s birthday, plans to celebrate post-competition dampened by news that only that very morning he had to give a final good by to his beloved dog of 15 years. The family dog was being driven to the vet that morning by the athlete’s father. Lastly, a dear friend, who had been having a rocky time recently with a relationship received a text msg. from said significant other saying it was time to end the relationship. Reminds me of a certain Sex and City episode, I said. Not sure which is worse, being broken up with by a post-it note, or text msg. Either way, better now then later, we agreed.

It’s been said before and bares repeating, as certain things do because they are so awesome and feel good to remember: Crossfit is a training ground for life.

It’s the hurdles that can knock the shit out of you. But you cannot avoid them.

Just like standing infront of the white board and staring at a WOD that looks so intimidating you wonder if anyone will notice if you sneak out during the warm up. It all may sound too simple. But it takes a great deal of strength of mind to go through some of life’s most difficult and heart breaking moments. It takes strength of mind to say yes to testing your body and your will, to pushing it past any perceive threshold and simply doing when you think you can not. By testing your body, you strengthen your mind. Training your whole You to stand up straight and walk ahead facing whatever lies before you.

Oh, and Crossfit also builds an incredible community around you that says, we got your back.

We are strong People, onto the next event.


The Question of, Why?

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
The question at ACF was posed: Why do You Crossfit?
And here is my answer:

It was the last of my one on one training sessions with Dean. Outside of the usual WODs I have been working with him to simply get stronger. Strong enough to compete. I have a long way to go but Dean taught me much; resistance training with chains and bands, corrected my deadlift form to where I PR’d twice in the following two weeks. 

I’m pretty tall. Especially tall for a girl. Some say they really like a tall woman but the better part of my formative and college years might tell a different story. When in public people usually comment or ask questions about my height. You wouldn’t believe some of things people say. To some; tall equals big equals strong equals not very feminine.

It’s been over a year since starting Crossfit and this much I’ve learned: It all comes down to you. Crossfit is a stripping away of bullshit. Where all that’s left is you competing against yourself. The steel and bumpers and burpees a level playing field. Crossfit forces you to face what’s inside of you.

The process can be nerve wracking and downright scary. There have been moments where I’ve thought about quitting even before the WOD begins.  But the clock starts and you start to move and somehow you just keep going. And in that process of going, of pushing through what was thought impossible, you learn about yourself and what you’re truly capable of. It doesn’t always feel good but it is always worth it. And sometimes you gain a piece of yourself that you never even knew existed.

At the end of our last class together I asked Dean for a hug. A big hug. It was a lot to ask. I was sweaty.

He stood on the giant Strongman tire and reached down and hugged me tight. ‘Be confident in your strength,’ he said.

‘Ok.’ I said.

‘Mary,’ he continued, ‘be confident in who you are.’

It’s okay to be strong. It’s okay to be who you are. Crossfit gets you comfortable with being uncomfortable. Crossfit is a training ground for life.

Training Ground for Life

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ― Sylvia Plath

First, I thought I lost my log book. This could not be. You never know what you have, till it’s gone. As soon as I realized it was missing the inner discombobulator began to represent.  For Part I of the WOD, Deadlifts, 4 x 4 x 4 x 4, I was simply lost.  All over the place. Suddenly couldn’t add, or subtract, or count apparently.

5 or 6 trips to the calculator on the wall, and I still wasn’t confident in my math. Learned tonight that I love to scribble stuff down during the WOD in my little book. It’s an integral part of the whole experience for me. Chicken scratches and roman numerals and addition and subtraction and little stick figures with x’s for eyes.

Found it!


I. Deadlift


Completed: @ 195lbs., 205lbs., 215lbs., and 225lbs.

I remember not only two or three weeks ago 225lbs. was my One Rep Max. Now it’s my 80%. I don’t know what happened. But, there can be no greater feeling. Your body getting stronger from hard work. Try as you might, this, you simply cannot purchase.

And then along came Part II:

Going to admit right here; Part II of tonight’s WOD was bru-tal. Felt weak and didn’t know if I could finish. So goes the up and down of a Crossfitter. Which is what makes CF such an excellent training ground for Life

Scaled a couple (not all) of the Burpee rounds from 8 to 6. And was still last to finish. With about a minute to spare on the 15 minute clock. Total Burpees, going to estimate to be approx. 72.

II. For Time:

10 Rounds

10 Overhead Lunges with Barbell (45/35)


 Completed: In 13:45 @ 35lbs. See rambling paragraph above. And that’s all I have to say about that.