What’s your gift?

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by Lawyerhands

Friends. It’s blogging season (AKA the Crossfit Open). After completing WOD 14.3, I’ve got even more grist for the mill. Just to let you know how predictable I have become, when I texted my score from this morning’s WOD, my husband wrote back “how many blog posts will this one have?” I’m hoping to keep it to one, but I make no promises.

It’s been a good open season so far, and the first two WOD’s seemed to play into the hands of the lighter, faster competitors. I knew a heavy WOD was coming, and it did. Today’s workout involved ascending deadlifts (95#, 135#, 155#, 185#, and so on) interspersed with box jumps (or stepups). My PR is 215#, but I haven’t seen over 200 in months, so I knew the round of 185# would be tough.

I always set small, medium, and large goals. This time, my small goal was to maintain adequate form, medium goal was to hit the round of 185# deadlifts (90 reps), large goal was to get to 100 reps (at least 10 DL’s at 185#). Excitingly enough, I managed to hit my big goal of 100 reps.

It’s been a great open season so far for me, and I’ve been really, really excited about my improvement. My accomplishments are genuinely small potatoes, compared to the amazing people out there, globally, in Northern California, at my awesome box (Crossfit Palo Alto), and even in my house (hubby is a beast!). But as I told hubby when I proudly posted my 100 score, which will put me in the middle of the pack again, I believe I did pretty close to the maximum that someone of my ability could do. And I can take pride in that.

It’s been exciting to move up from the back to the middle of the pack. Sure, the middle of the pack means that about half of the female 40-44 year old crossfitters who signed up for the open are posting scores that are better than mine, but it also means that I’ve improved a lot since this time last year.

I have been thinking about what this all means, and how to integrate it into my sense of self, and here’s what I’ve come up with. I am all effort. I might not get an A on my report card, but you had better believe that I would get an E for effort. Though I am not blessed with natural ability, I am blessed with desire. I knock on doors, looking for answers until my (metaphorical) knuckles bleed. I’ve worked on my nutrition, my rowing, my engine, my squats, my presses, my pullups, my ring dips, my vitamins, my recovery shakes, my mobility, my stretching and many, many more issues, too boring to recount in this article. I think about Crossfit a lot, and about optimization of my experience so much that our children joke that many of the conversations my husband and I have sound like “blah blah crossfit, blah blah crossfit, blah blah crossfit.”

We all have our strengths. Some are sprinters, some are amazing at body weight exercises such as pushups and pullups, some are heavy lifters, some are rowing studs, some have natural athleticism. I’m not especially great at any of these tasks. I’ve never been able to put my finger on it before, but I think I have finally figured out my strength.

I am relentless. I keep coming, regardless of how many times I meet with obstacles, no matter how slow and frustrating the progress may be. I think Crossfit encourages this skill. I used to think that Crossfit was only for the firebreathers, and that those of us who were less naturally gifted were somehow less worthy of respect or admiration. But then I realized how much crossfitters delight in EVERYONE who pushes, who refuses to quit, who finds a way, any way, to keep moving. That last person finishing up the WOD often gets the loudest cheers of all, not only from the crowd but from the fellow competitors.

When I first started writing this post, I had planned to tell you how special I am, how unusually and wonderfully relentless I am, and was prepared to be admired as a unique, never say die butterfly. But then I started thinking about all the relentless people I have had the pleasure of meeting, cheering on, and becoming friends with through crossfit, and realized that so many of us are special in this way.

Rich Froning is relentless with his prodigous workload-three times the champion of the Crossfit Games, and he keeps coming with a workload that is hard to even imagine. 74 year old Jacinto Bonilla, currently sitting in 12th place worldwide among 60+ year old athletes, refuses to make excuses while competing against men up to 14 years younger than himself. The wounded warriors at Crossfit Walter Reed have injuries of all kinds, and somehow find a way to adapt and keep moving forward. They are relentless for sure, relentless in a magnitude I can’t even imagine.

This is the joy of the open. We are all worthy of celebration. Each of us has the opportunity to show off the gifts that make us special, whether you’re relentless like me, or something else wonderful. It’s easy to look at the leaderboard and decide that where we rank is what makes us worthy or admirable, but I am reminding myself, and maybe you too, that our score is a small fraction of our accomplishments. I invite you to join me in celebrating the gifts that you are showing in your open season-how are you inspiring others, surprising yourself, and showing off the very best parts of yourself? I can’t wait to hear all about your own unique experiences, and I hope you’ll share them with me and continue to give those gifts to your community and to yourself.

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