Wednesday, July 11, 2012

368 Out of 725+ ... Cancer and Reflections on the CrossFit Open

As the 2012 Games begin, I am reflecting back on the Open qualifiers.  I have an interesting perspective on the CrossFit Open.  During the 2011 Open, specifically, right after the first WOD, and before the second WOD was announced, I was diagnosed and underwent surgery for a brain tumor that turned out to be cancerous.  I never finished the 2011 Open, and, in fact, I never did anything more than the first WOD.  

A year passes…  I was out of CrossFit for a couple of months.  I underwent radiation treatments, and am still undergoing chemotherapy.  The CrossFit Open is announced, and I toss my hat in and sign up.  Not with the expectations of being a contender for the Games – I have lost so much strength, stamina, endurance and more – but with the hope of just getting through the entire Open.  I just wanted to finish the event – something I was not able to do last year.

My athlete bio on the Games site really said it all…
    “It is what it is... I am blessed to be able to even sign up. But I don't have any unreal expectations as to how I might do. I just want to do the WODs, RX. And I'd like to make it past the second one. I did not fill in my numbers because the maxes and times that I have are not my current times or maxes. I don't know what my current ones are, or what I am capable of doing.”
And it started…

WOD 12.1
Complete as many reps as possible in 7 minutes of:
My initial thought on this one was, “Really??? Seven minutes of burpees?” I thought that so many people would end up with the same scores.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Seven minutes of burpees had a way of pushing people to do more than they ever thought they could do in seven minutes.  It taxed people in a way that was unexpected, and took the first cut, as previously unknowns surfaced on the Leaderboards.

So many people, doing so many burpees…  I bet Coach Burgener was cheering everyone on, all across the world, “YAY BURPEES!” 

For me, it was a relief.  I knew I could do seven minutes of burpees, and I also knew it wouldn’t be a lot.  I was on a chemotherapy regimen for this WOD.  I knew there would be at least one WOD I would be doing while taking my chemotherapy drugs.  Right out of the starting gate, 12.1 was it.

I hoped I could do 70 burpees.  I did 64.  That equated to less than 10 per minute.  But I was okay with that, because I finished the first WOD.  And I would not be on chemotherapy for another 3 weeks.  I was so happy to have finished, and was excited about 12.2.  I wanted to get further than I was able to last year.

WOD 12.2
WOMEN - includes Masters Women up to 54 years old, Proceed through the sequence below completing as many reps as possible in 10 minutes of:
    45 pound Snatch, 30 reps
    75 pound Snatch, 30 reps
    100 pound Snatch, 30 reps
    120 pound Snatch, as many reps as possible
This I knew would be challenging.  I had lost so much strength.  I knew I could snatch 45 pounds, and I could snatch 75 pounds.  I knew I used to be able to snatch 100 pounds, but was uncertain if I could do it now, and honestly did not think I could. 
The WOD had a time limit, 10 minutes.  This put a different spin on it.  Could I do 30 snatches at 45 pounds in 10 minutes?  Could I do an additional 30 at 75 pounds?  If I could get those 60 done, could I even get one at 100 pounds

As I performed the WOD, I was realizing that I was getting through the first 30.  It was time to add some weight and go to 75 pounds.  I put the weight on the bar and started snatching.  Getting through all 30, I realized that I would have time to attempt 100 pounds.  I loaded the bar, and failed once, twice, three times, and then the time ran out.

I did not underestimate my ability.  I knew that 100 pounds would be challenging for me at this point in my recovery.  I did underestimate the amount of time it took to load my own weights.  I probably could have found a handful of seconds by being more efficient at loading my weights.  But I still would not have been able to snatch the 100 pound weight.

I was happy with my result.  I kept things in perspective, something that is difficult for me to some days.  I thought it was good, for where I was in my recovery.  I finished the WOD, my first goal, and I also made it through 60 snatches.  I was already further than last year, and looking forward to the next week, when 12.3 would be revealed.

WOD 12.3
WOMEN - includes Masters Women up to 54 years old, Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 18 minutes of:
    15 Box jumps, 20" box
    75 pound Push press, 12 reps
    9 Toes-to-bar
This one really troubled me.  About a month before this WOD, I was doing box jumps in a WOD and slipped on the box, smashing my knee cap into the edge of the box, and leaving me with a strong fear of jumping on boxes, something I had never experienced.  There were times when I was doing 30” box jumps in WODs.  But when this was announced, I was only jumping 12-16 inches.  20” in a WOD was terrifying.  What if I fell off again?  What if I hurt myself more than the previous time?

I couldn’t think of these things…  I just needed to jump 20”, at least 15 times.  I knew I could physically do it, but mentally I was terrified.  Cancer has a way of destroying confidence.  And chemo brain doesn’t help.  I was worried I would fail before I had even started.

The day I did the WOD, I decided to warm up with smaller boxes, and increasing height until I reached 20”.  I was able to do 8”, then 12”, then 16”, then 20”.  I was ready to tackle 12.3.

The timer started and I started my box jumps.  I surprised myself by finishing the first set of jumps.  Time to move on to the push presses, then the toes-to-bars.  One round done, time to start another, time to jump on the box.  Every time I went to jump my mind processed what I was doing.  I mentally set myself up, then physically.  I mentally eyed the target, then physically.  I visualized myself jump and land, then I jumped and landed on the box.  I probably mentally jumped twice as many box jumps as I physically did.

When the 10 minutes ended, I had completed 4 full rounds, and most of the 5th.  I had jumped on the box 75 times.  I was so happy that I was able to jump on the box and finish the WOD.

I had completed 3 of the 5 WODs, making it further through the Open than I had last year.  I was very happy about that, but it was also sad.  I was constantly reminded of where I could have been if I had not gotten sick.  I wanted to be a contender for the Games…  I did.  But realistically, I knew it was not possible.  There was no way.  Doing the WODs and participating in the Open was what I wanted to do, but so was doing better than I was doing.  I would just need to be happy with where I was…  Happy that I was at least able to perform the WODs.  I asked God for the strength to persevere, and to help me count my blessings, as there were so many.

WOD 12.4
WOMEN - includes Masters Women up to 54 years old,  Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 12 minutes of:
    150 Wall balls (14lbs to 9' target)
    90 Double-unders
    30 Muscle-ups
I just knew that muscle-ups would show up at some point in the open.  I also knew that if they did, I would not be able to do them.  I was not getting them consistently before, so I knew there was no chance now. 

I have also been struggling with my double-unders.  My timing has been off.  I can sometimes get 15-20 or so, but many times it is 3-5 at a time.  Again, a result of all that I have been through…  surgery, radiation, and chemo.

I felt defeated before even starting this WOD.  I tried to keep it in perspective.  But it was hard, knowing how much I would struggle with the double-unders, and that even if I made it to the muscle-ups, I wouldn’t be able to do one.

So the clock started and I started my wall balls.  I felt confident with the wall balls.  I just dreaded what was coming up.  All I could think about was that I would need as much time as possible to do the double-unders, so I have to really push the wall balls.  I knew I wouldn’t get any muscle-ups, but I wanted to get the double-unders.  I wanted it badly.

I finished the wall balls, and went on to the double-unders.  I would get a couple, then miss, then get a few, then miss.  I tried to just keep going.  But the more I missed, the more upset I got.  The more upset I got, the more I missed.  I tried to keep it in perspective, but my perspective was interrupted by the rope hitting my feet, legs and hands.

Time ran out on me, before I could finish the double-unders.  I only got 35.  I tried to keep it in perspective, but again, I felt so defeated. 

WOD 12.5
WOMEN - includes Masters Women up to 54 years old

Complete as many reps as possible in 7 minutes following the rep scheme below:
    65 pound Thruster, 3 reps
     3 Chest to bar Pull-ups
    65 pound Thruster, 6 reps
    6 Chest to bar Pull-ups
    65 pound Thruster, 9 reps
     9 Chest to bar Pull-ups
    65 pound Thruster, 12 reps
    12 Chest to bar Pull-ups
    65 pound Thruster, 15 reps
    15 Chest to bar Pull-ups
    65 pound Thruster, 18 reps
    18 Chest to bar Pull-ups
    65 pound Thruster, 21 reps
    21 Chest to bar Pull-ups...
    This is a timed workout. If you complete the round of 21, go on to 24. If you complete 24, go on to 27, etc.

This was the last WOD.  If I could finish this one, then I finished the Open.  My goal was to finish, and I was so close.  I had to do it, knowing full well that I would never make it to the 2012 Games, but remembering that my goal was to be able to finish the Open, and to do each WOD as prescribed.

I was excited to do it, excited to finish.  But I had just started a chemo regimen, so it was really going to be a tough one.  I was not feeling well, was not sleeping well, and just going to try to endure.

Thrusters and pull-ups…  It looks a lot like Fran, or perhaps Fran’s mean older sister.  Again, the clock started and so did I.  The first set of thrusters felt like they always do, except I only had to do 3, as opposed to the 21 prescribed in Fran.  3 felt like a vacation!  Then time for chest-to-bar pull-ups.  Again, a movement that required strength, something I had lost so much of.  I struggled getting my chest to the bar and was no-repped a couple of times during the WOD. I got the 3s done, 3 thrusters and 3 chest-to-bar pull-ups. On to the 6s.  Again I struggled on the chest-to-bar pull-ups.

7 minutes came up, and I struggled to get the last few reps in.  When all was said and done, I had completed the 3s, the 6s and the 9s, and started working on the 12s.  I did all 12 of the thrusters, and 4 of the pull-ups, almost finishing the round.

I got down on one knee and gave thanks to God, who made this possible.  I had finished the Open competition, 368 out of 725+ in my age group.  But it didn’t matter where I finished, only that I finished.  I had made my goal – I finished the Open.  And for that I am grateful.

As I look back on the Open on the day the Games begin, I think about the athletes and all they have endured.  I am so excited for them – their time has come.  Tomorrow I leave for Carson to watch in person, and to cheer them on.  If I could tell them one thing, it would be to have fun and enjoy the journey. 

1 comment:

Caroline said...

Congrats on your goal, my friend! God is good! Love you and very proud of your box jumps!