the fittest on earth

The CrossFit Games is one of my favorite times of the year. The CF season is quite long- Hundreds of thousands of individuals from all over the entire world complete 5 different workouts over 5 weekends in the CF Open beginning in late February. The top athletes from 17 regions around the world move on to compete in a three day competition at regionals. From regionals, the top 40 men, women, and teams along with 80 teenagers and 240 masters move on to compete for 4 days at the CF Games. The CF Games are like the Olympics to CrossFitters. It is THE competition to determine who is the “Fittest on Earth”.

This year the Games were quite different. For the past 10 years, the Games have been held in Carson, California. This past year, CF headquarters announced there would be a new home for the Games for the next 3 years-Madison, Wisconsin. We had planned to skip this year, but with this news, Josh and I decided (along with a group of our friends from the gym) that we could more easily afford a trip up there to enjoy the long weekend. To save money, we drove up to Madison and rented a suite for all of us to share. We only bought Festival passes ($100) for the Games events this year also. Festival passes gave us access to the outside daytime events, as well as the masters and teenagers workouts. We were supposed to have access to the daytime Coliseum events as well, but for some reason that changed and we could only see the outside events. In past years, we’ve bought Festival+Coliseum passes which get you into the outside and inside events, but those tickets were starting at about $335 per ticket! We just couldn’t justify spending that with all the other vacations we have planned for the year.

No one in the group was able to head up on Wednesday, so we ended up leaving Thursday afternoon. Ashley picked Josh and I up, then we headed up to Columbus to pick up Jake and Leslie. The drive up was rather uneventful- unfortunately we timed it pretty poorly and ended up hitting after work rush hour traffic in Chicago and we got stuck behind a car accident which added about 45 minutes extra to our trip. Thankfully, though, we all packed food and drinks so we only had to make a couple stops for bathroom breaks and filling up the gas tank.

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Check out our awesome group of NoBulls!

We finally made it to Madison around 10 pm and checked into our hotel. I have no idea how we got so lucky, but the hotel I booked was fantastic. It was only about a 5 minute walk to Alliant Energy Center where the Games were being held- you could see the venue from our hotel room. Our suite had two queen beds and a pull out couch, so there was enough room for all of us to sleep comfortably. And the best part was that our room had a stove top with two burners, a microwave, and a full size fridge! It was so perfect because everyone in our group is doing the nutrition challenge with our gym, trying to eat healthy, and we were all trying to save money! After we got our stuff dropped off in the room, we drove over to Walmart to stock up on food for the weekend. We definitely didn’t eat the yummiest food (lunch meat, canned tuna, green beans, and steamer bags of broccoli and brussels sprouts), but it was quick, fairly inexpensive, and easy. You could tell the Games were being hosted close by, as I have never seen so many fit, healthy people walking around Walmart before! By the time we got back to our hotel room, our friend Joel had arrived! It had been almost 9 months since any of us had seen him and we were sooooo happy to be reunited with our Joelybear!

Friday morning we woke up bright and early to eat breakfast and watch the events for the day. The first three events happened on Thursday- there was a run/swim workout, a cyclocross bike workout, and a muscle-up/snatch workout. I wish we had been able to go up to watch those workouts in person, but they were still very exciting on Facebook Live videos. We ventured through vendor village on the way to North Park for the first event. Vendor village had a lot of great booths, but it seemed smaller this year than when it was in California. And unfortunately with us arriving on Friday instead of Thursday when it opened, a lot of vendors were already sold out! I couldn’t believe they didn’t have more inventory with the amount of people they knew would be coming to watch the Games. One of my favorites was the Saddleback Leather booth where we took selfies with a cow for a chance to win a free backpack (unfortunately none of us won, sad face). #StrongestBagsOnEarth

The first event on Friday was an outdoor obstacle course race. The weather was terrible! It was around 55°F, cloudy, windy, and slightly misting. Thank God we were all prepared and had packed long sleeves, sweat pants, and rain jackets or it would have been even more miserable. The obstacle course was pretty fun to see with log walks, a rope wall to climb, an army crawl, rope swings, hurdles, and more.

After we watched the teams and individuals complete the obstacle course, we headed back inside vendor village to walk around. The highlight of my weekend there was that I got free Kill Cliff drinks for wearing a Kill Cliff shirt. And Zevia was handing out free sparkling waters, energy drinks, and their soda! I definitely drank my weight in Kill Cliff and Zevia.      

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The remainder of our Friday was spent walking back and forth to the hotel to eat food and laying on the concrete floor in the beer garden to watch the Coliseum events. It was really quite disappointing to pay $100 and only be able to see one team/individual event live and have to watch the rest of the events on TV…which I could have stayed home and done on my comfy couch. We made the best of it though and had a big group snuggle party on the floor watching the team max clean and jerk event and the individual max snatch event. Hands down, the max lift events are my favorite every time! There is just something about seeing people pick up some really heavy weight and throw down, especially when they PR! There were some crazy strong people- one of the guys on a team (I wish I could remember which one) opened(yes, opened!) with a 347# clean and jerk…and went on to hit 367# and 377#! And a girl on another team was push jerking around 230#! Just so impressive. On the individual side, my favorite lifts were from Chyna Cho and Cassidy Lance-McWherter who both PR’ed their snatches and were just having so much fun! Even in the beer garden, you could hear the roar of excitement from the crowd with every lift made.     

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Saturday morning was much better weather for the outside event. It was sunny and in the low 70s, with a nice breeze. The team event involved a (I think it weighed around 1000 lbs or more) sled drag backwards and push forwards. The individual event, “Strongman’s Fear”, involved heavy yoke carries (420#/300#), farmer’s carries (170#/120#), and sled drags (265#/220#) with handstand walking in between the carries. It looked really hard, but was really fun to watch.

          

After those events were done, we walked around vendor village some. I met Nicole Biscuiti (founder of the Chestee sports bras), taught Jake how to take a selfie, and of course I stocked up on Kill Cliff and Zevia!

 

We ate lunch back at the room and then came back and watched the bar muscle-up clean ladder event from the roof of the RomWod booth. This event was awesome- the weight of the cleans increased throughout the workout and a lot of people PR’ed at the end of the ladder! I can’t imagine PR’ing at the Games, let after so many events over that past few days.  

We also spent a lot of time at the Assault Fitness booth trying out all their equipment and their NormaTec systems. I’ve got to say, the NormaTec leg system was super relaxing and I wouldn’t mind having one of those at home…if I can just find an extra $1500 laying around first lol.

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Sunday was the final day of the Games. It was a little cloudy outside, but the temperature was great and we were able to get pretty decent seats to watch the “Madison Triplet” event (it involved running, sandbag cleans, and burpees over straw bales…only in the Midwest, am I right?). We ate a quick lunch at our hotel room, goofed around in vendor village for a bit, then headed to the age group pavilion to watch the final master’s events. The master’s group ranges from 35 to 60+ years old. And they. are. amazing. The event we watched was Diane+Final (Diane is handstand push-ups and deadlifts, while the final event was rope climbs and thrusters). There were several athletes in the 50-54 age group that beat the times of the 35-39 year olds! It was such an inspiration to watch. And they’re all super ripped and have abs! There’s hope for me yet, you guys, just give me another 20 years!

We watched the 2223 interval event (rope climbs, calories on the SkiErg, and overhead squats) at the Assault Fitness booth. While we were hanging out we just happened to look across the way to see Nick Shaw! Nick is the founder of RP Strength, the diet and hypertrophy templates Josh and I follow. We had to go over and talk to him, of course. We wouldn’t be where we are today with our nutrition and training without him.

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We ended our Games weekend eating dinner in the room and watching the final event on our phones through Facebook Live. The final event was so exhilarating and quick and a race to the finish. I absolutely loved it! It was super neat to watch when the winners were announced and how emotional it all was for them- they invest so much time and sacrifice so much to compete at the Games and it’s over in the blink of an eye. While this year’s Games wasn’t entirely what I expected from a spectator experience, it was definitely fun and full of laughs. The Games will be held in Madison for at least the next two years and if we happen to go back, we’re going to splurge and spend the couple extra hundred dollars for the Coliseum passes for sure. If you go, make sure you get the Festival+Coliseum passes too!

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Don’t let that face fool you, he definitely missed me!

For the Love of CrossFit

It’s one of my favorite times of the year in CrossFit world! Tomorrow is the start of the CF Games Regionals events. Every weekend for the next few weekends, athletes across the world will compete in several events testing their fitness to qualify for a spot at the CF Games (this is like the Olympics for CrossFitters). So, if you need me in the next few weekends, I’ll be sitting on the couch with my eyes glued to the TV watching everyone get their fitness on.

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If you know me at all, you know a huge part of my life is CrossFit. I have been CrossFitting since August 2013 (holy crap, that’s almost 4 years!!! Gees, time sure has flown by!). I first heard about CF from one of my best friends, Allison, who was an avid CrossFitter.  When I started at Kremers, I found out that Josh did CF, so I would go into the lab every day and ask what his workout was going to be, laugh in his face at how hard it sounded and how I would never be able to do anything like that, then walk out. It wasn’t until I went up to Chicago to be Allison’s date for her brother’s wedding that I finally got a drink of the Kool-Aid. We did a “deck of cards” workout in the hotel involving handstand push-ups, sit-ups, and air squats. While I struggled through the workout, doing HSPU off the bed (very scaled) and going slow as molasses, I watched Allison bust through the workout with ease (she might have been struggling, but to me she was a goddess). I was so sore for the following week, it hurt to sneeze or laugh… I. was. Hooked. Josh and I are beyond blessed to be a part of the community at CF Ripcord, where he coaches and we both attend classes. Some people may not understand why CF is such an important aspect of my life, so I’ve come up with a list of reasons exactly why I love it so much.

 

  1. It lead me to my husband. Josh and I knew each other from work, but it was really only in passing. When I began CF, I saw him for a few hours every day at the gym and we began spending more and more time together. We would do the 5 pm class together, then decide we both needed to stay to watch and cheer on the 6 pm class…which was totally unnecessary, but gave us more time together. It only took me about 5 months to realize we were going to be more than friends and now we’ve been married for almost 2 years!

  

  1. It has boosted my confidence. I walked into CF very hesitant. I wasn’t friends with anyone and I was not athletic at all. I was manager of the swim team and statistician for the basketball team. Let’s just say those aren’t very physical positions. I had never touched a barbell, done a pull-up, or ran a 5k. There was so much I had never done. But each day I learned something new and pushed myself and now I do things I never imagined possible before- such as bar muscle-ups, handstand push-ups, and olympic lifting. Before CF, I would work out in baggy PE shorts and a t-shirt. Now, I’m proud to wear booty shorts and a sports bra around and show off the hard work I’ve put in. I love that I have thicker legs and muscley arms all because of CF!  

 

  1. It has made me stronger physically. Like I said previously, I was not athletic. Doing CF has pushed me more than I could have imagined. I started out not being able to do one push-up or pull-up, let alone lift a 35# barbell properly. With a lot of drills, progressions, and coaching I can now do a set of 20 push-ups, sets of strict pull-ups, and lift a barbell over my head that weighs more than me!   

 

  1. It has given me another family. This community surrounding CF is one of the most encouraging and supportive I’ve ever been a part of. Walking into CF for the first time is so intimidating, but you realize very quickly that everyone is there to get stronger and be their best. You never have to push yourself through a challenging workout alone. Someone is always there to coach you, cheer you on, and pick you up when you’re having a rough day. I truly have made some lifelong friends through CF and can’t imagine my life without them.

 

  1. It helps me stay healthy and be prepared for life. Before CF, I felt like I was in decent shape. I used to run on the treadmill and do P90X. I soon realized, I was not in shape at all! CF has helped me become stronger and healthier. Functional movement is what CF is all about. These movements have made me more efficient and have helped prevent injuries in my everyday activities. Something as simple as sitting down at your desk involves squatting which we do almost daily in some form in our workouts. Picking up a bag of dog food is similar to a clean. CF has also lead me to a healthier diet. I now eat to fuel my body and recover properly, not just shove my face full of whatever food is available. I feel better, workout better, have more energy, and look better all because of CF!

 

  1. It allows me opportunities to travel. There are CF gyms and competitions around the entire world. I have traveled as far as Los Angeles for the Games and Miami for Wodapalooza to watch people compete. This summer, we’re traveling up to Madison, Wisconsin for the Games. It’s such a great experience to travel to a new place, meet new people who are just as passionate about CF as you are, and discover new cultures and communities.
  2. It has made made me competitive. Having not participated in sports throughout high school or college, I didn’t know I was capable of being competitive. It’s not even about being competitive with the other people in the gym, but more so pushing you against yourself. It’s exciting to see a workout be programmed again and to push yourself to lift a heavier weight or put up a faster time. And while it’s not about beating the person next to you, it is so much more fun to have a friend beside you that is at a similar skill level to push you to finish fast and strong.

 

  1. It makes me work on my weaknesses, while maintaining my strengths. There are so many movements in CF and every workout is different. There is no way to only do movements that you are good at or that you like. There will come a time when something is programmed that you can’t do or don’t like to do. Those workouts show you what you’re really made of. Instead of pouting or skipping class, I choose to perform drills and do progressions working up to that movement. And then when I finally can do that movement, I feel so proud that I worked on my weakness and didn’t let it get me down.  

 

  1. It takes me out of my comfort zone. Do you think climbing a 15 foot rope or walking upside down on your hands isn’t scary? Well, you’re probably crazy, but that’s ok. They’re scary to me (along with a few other movements), but I still try them. I love that CF pushes me to do “scary” things and even if I fail, I had the courage to at least try and someday I will succeed.  

 

  1. It is an awesome stress reliever. Throwing some heavy weight around, sweating, working hard, surrounded by a bunch of awesome people has helped me out on several crappy days like nothing else could. Let’s be real that even on an awesome day, going into the gym can improve my mood.

 

I am so blessed for all that I’ve gained through CrossFit and I absolutely can’t wait to see where it leads me in the future! Here’s to staying fit, hitting new goals, and building a bigger booty!