February 1st, 2013
I committed myself to get serious about my training and the pains and discipline required to significantly improve my performance in the 2014 Crossfit Open. My goal was to prepare myself to finish in the Top 100 of the Master’s category in the South East Region. There were many skills in which I needed to hone my proficiency, my nutrition would need to be better, and my strength numbers were going to have to improve significantly in order to achieve such a lofty goal. And believe me, it was lofty. I had no desire to qualify for the Regionals, but I wanted to give one year of complete dedication uninterrupted by school, work issues, or other endeavors.
September 1, 2013
Everything was lining up as it should. My nutrition plan and strength training were yielding significant improvements in my Power and Olympic lifts, my skills were getting better, and my met cons were yielding results that were exactly in line with where I wanted be. My Fran time had dropped from 6:53 to 4:04. I was “thumping”. And then, as often is the case, life threw me a few speed bumps. Speed bumps that were completely unexpected and created a cruel intersection of circumstances that challenged everything I had in me physically and emotionally.
October 18th, 2013
I had spent the week traveling between Switzerland and the UK on a blitz tour of a couple of facilities that my company owns. Between all of the connecting flights and layovers, almost 24 hours was spent on a plane or in an airport. Almost all of that time was spent sitting in meeting rooms. To match that, my workout schedule was slack, mobility was sacrificed due to time constraints, and I failed to properly hydrate following all of the flying. I left on a Saturday and returned on Thursday the 17th. I was excited about the 18th and the opportunity to lift something heavy and crush a metcon back at my home box. Too excited it seems because I forgot about all of the factors leading up to my workout. The dehydration, the lack of mobility, the tightness from sitting for so many hours, and the exhaustion from the travel and time changes. I jumped right in to a deadlift session that, ignoring all lingering effects from the past week, was ripe for doing something stupid. And that’s just what I did…something stupid.
I pulled a weight that was 10 pounds off of my deadlift PR twice. On the second lift, something in my back tweaked. I knew exactly what it was, I’d felt it before. I needed to stop, but there was one more rep to hit my total weight for the lifting session. So I lifted one more time and ignored everything circumstantial about the past week and everything my body was telling me in the moment.
The result, a herniated L5. Caused by sheer ignorance, bad form, and failure to pay attention. I thought my normal chiropractic adjustments were going to help me out until about 5 minutes into the next WOD when my body began to protect it self. The muscles began to twist and contort in a fashion that was unthinkable. Even though I was able to ignore what was signaled to me earlier, my body began to unleash an agonizing and painful response to my turning a deaf ear to it. There was no doubt that I wasn’t lifting anything in the near future.
The next few days were difficult. The reality of the situation being much more significant than a routine adjustment could help was hard. My doctor was pretty insistent that my goal for the Open was “just to participate” at this point in time. As always seems to be the case, I was pretty sure I knew better. I’m three weeks from the start of the Open and she was right. I was glad just to know I could sign up and participate. Top “Whatever” will have to work in place of Top 100.
And that’s when it all started. The negative self talk and blame. I had to take 5 weeks off completely. I was allowed to stretch and that was it. I spent those 5 weeks watching “everyone” PR, get better, get faster, and I felt like I had gone from Drive, to Neutral, to Reverse. I was seriously considering alternatives to Crossfit because I was afraid that I would have to work too hard to catch back up. I was angry at myself and everything about fitness.That’s good enough right, one big speed bump to slow me down a little.
December 11th, 2013
My youngest brother called and advised me that I needed to get to the hospital quick. My mother had taken a sudden turn in a crazy bout with bone cancer and I needed to be there. I arrived on the 10th and held my mother’s hand for the first time in 10 years. On the 11th, I held her hand as she passed away in the same hospital that she gave birth to me 41 years ago. If you’ve ever held the hand of a loved one as they passed from this life to the next, the experience is contemplative. This speed bump was completely unexpected and I was not prepared mentally or emotionally. This is where the cruel intersection of circumstances collided.
As angry as I was and as intimidated as I had become about the work required to get back into shape, I realized that my release for the past 4 years has been getting to the gym. Lifting weights, throwing wall balls, slinging kettle bells, and getting into that dark place where I face myself for a few minutes of dialogue that takes me one step closer to resolving the issues before me. I didn’t start Crossfit to shoot for a crazy and almost unobtainable goal of Top 100 41 year old Master in the SouthEast Region. I started Crossfit because my kids were running circles around me, I could barely breathe when I moved too fast, and I wanted a quality of life that wasn’t inhibited by my lack of fitness. What I have found is a mental and physical acuity that allows me to minimize how much a speed bump actually slows me down. What I have found is a community that helps each other out with constant support in rough times.
So life put two speed bumps in the way. One physical, which messed with my thoughts about why fitness has become so important to my normal routine. The other emotional, which brought me back to center and really helped me realize the importance of living life as vibrantly and as functionally as you can regardless of whether you perform at 65% or 100%.
Maybe one day I’ll get back to that tip top shape. Maybe. Even if I don’t, I’m doing just fine.