At the time my last post was published, I was certain that I couldn’t do an overhead squat. I was sure my score would be zero. I was down about the Open, wondering why the heck I joined and already looking ahead to 14.3 to maybe be able to do a movement there. I was feeling pretty low about myself. But then… the miracle of CrossFit happened.
I’m going to hit you with the last page of the story first: I got one OHS at 95 pounds. Wait, that should read more like this: Ahh! I freaking got one rep of my overhead squat as prescribed at 95 pounds and didn’t have to submit a zero on my 14.2 score! I worked my ass off and it paid off!
I won’t lie, I kind of focused on the first part of that and was really happy with getting one OHS! I honestly, unequivocally, could not OHS a piece of PVC pipe Thursday night after 14.2 was announced. And now that I’ve had time to reflect on what I accomplished in those 66 hours from announcement to performance, the second part of my statement is the true victory. I worked my ass off and it paid off. Let’s break that down into two parts.
Naw, hold on a second. I get to brag on myself first! (not really, I’m absolutely not one to brag… but let’s tell the story real quick) I had been stretching and practicing like crazy (more on that later). I arrived at CrossFit 865 about an hour before our Sunday WOD. I was going to warm up and then just see what I could do as others were doing their 14.2. I had gotten an OHS with 65 lbs the day before, and I was happy with that and ready to accept that as my accomplishment at 14.2. Walking into the box, I still didn’t think that I could do an OHS with 95 lbs.
After warm ups with rowing and stretching and other mobility movements, I went to squat the bar. Just those 45 lbs felt heavy and I rose up on my toes and couldn’t get my arms far enough back and I was leaning forward and it hurt and everything felt so wrong! It felt like I had regressed back to my Thursday evening trials! I wanted to give up then and not even attempt an OHS with weight. But I kept warming up….
There was a bar set up at 65 lbs and I finally felt warm and loose enough to try that. I semi-snatched it up and I could squat it. Hooray! Back to my PR! Ok, well I at least I could still do that. Close enough, right? ……… No. What’s written on the wall? Something about walking in terrified and walking out accomplished, something about being better than yesterday. 65 lbs was yesterday. I needed 95 to be better. I had to try. It was go time.
I lifted a bar with the 95 lbs and just held it overhead to get the feel of the weight. There was definitely weight on the bar! I thought of 95 lbs falling down on my head while trying to squat down with it… so I sat the bar back on the ground. It had felt good to pick it up though, it gave me confidence.
Now I grabbed my own barbell and put my own 25 lb plates on, securing it with collars and starting to get my mind in a place to believe that I maybe possibly could potentially theoretically complete my 95 lb OHS. I got the bar overhead and made several attempts to slowly lower myself into a squat. It was painstakingly slow and each time I would descend a bit, I would come back up. Finally I made it to the bottom but couldn’t stand it up and bailed on the lift.
At this point it was time to start the clock for everyone doing 14.2. The adrenaline was pumping, music blasting, and people were giving encouragement to all of us. (gah, being cheered on is amazing, I’ll never take that for granted and that’s one of my favorite things about CrossFit) I hoisted the bar overhead and again made it to the bottom but had to bail.
But then.. the third time was the charm!
Oh yeah, I stood that baby up and I had accomplished what I absolutely said I could not do. I conquered every limitation I had, all physical and mental. I was so happy that I pretty much left it at that one rep and spent the rest of my 3 minutes smiling. I did attempt one more OHS but couldn’t refocus like I needed to. But I didn’t care.
My miracle had occurred.
Funny thing about miracles though, they usually aren’t miracles. I really didn’t have a miracle at all. I had a mathematical equation. I had good in = good out. I had hard work plus dedication equals positive results. Simple enough right?
I was completely, utterly focused on obtaining a non-zero score for 14.2. I know that isn’t the point of CrossFit, to be wholly obsessed on something like that, but I was consumed. Friday consisted of stretching and digging into my scapula with lacrosse balls and stretching my legs with bands and LOTS of PVC pipe squatting. Saturday brought the same except I added more weight above my head. I had a goal, and unlike many times in my life, I was going to see this one through. I mean I wrote that I couldn’t do an OHS, and that was the truth; at the time of publication, I could not do one. I, for once, put in the exact amount of work required to overcome my weaknesses and put myself in a position to succeed.
That’s life, isn’t it? How often do we not put that little extra effort in to give us the opportunity to succeed? How many of us give up sugar for Lent only to become almost diabetic when Easter rolls around and we are free to consume again? Why is it so hard to put in 5-10 extra minutes at work to get a presentation together and polished so you look like a boss when you give it? How will we ever get a chest to bar pull-up without doing jumping pull-ups with slow negatives or pull-ups with bands or ring rows to build up strength?
I think that’s the drug of CrossFit; to show us what we can do and who we can be with a little bit of hard work. Sure, crafting something from Pinterest is awesome and you will get a sense of accomplishment if you finish it. But with CrossFit, the project is us. We are the end result – a better us is the product of our hard work. Not something hanging on the wall but this sack of muscle and bone and life and awesome that we take everywhere. CrossFit changes who we are on multiple levels and planes. That’s what “outsiders” don’t understand. It’s not just jumping on boxes and throwing balls against the wall – it’s the testing of our existential limits. It’s pushing to those boundaries and then plunging ahead into unchartered territory of growth.
Ultimately, who cares that I overhead squatted 95 pounds? Will that make me better? Not really. But the process, the pursuit, the hunt, the culmination of a goal – that’s what this is all about. Learning how to push ourselves to accomplish something previously unobtainable is worth its sweat weight in gold. CrossFit was the impetus that turned something I absolutely could not do into something I absolutely can do. Extrapolate that to the rest of my life and who knows how far I could go.
Of course, I couldn’t have done it without all the support, without the stretching help and the advice on how to rotate my shoulders out and actively push up and all the positive reinforcement. My score of 1 isn’t at all impressive on its own, but I am very proud of what it represents. I’m proud of the reward for working my ass off. I’m addicted, and I’m craving more.