I have always loved competition. Competition breeds a ferocity inside most of us that keeps us going when we think we can’t; it ignites your drive and pushes you past your limit. Crossfit has been a great way to channel this competitive drive for me and that same drive has helped me work through WODs that I thought I would never finish. I knew that I wanted to compete in this crazy sport when I was watching our coaches throw down at the 2013 Taranis Titan Challenge (now the West Coast Triple Crown Winter Challenge). It was so inspiring to watchwomen and men of all levels throw themselves in to the deep end and give everything they had at “3, 2, 1, GO!”.
I spent countless hours at Raincity working to prepare myself for the IceBreaker Challenge. I stuck to our rigorous competitors schedule(lots of double days, a LOT of Olympic lifting and a lot of mobility work), I did Kalsu with my fellow competitors (it still makes me nauseous to think about it) and had mentally prepared as much as possible to enter the arena with some of the best in Canada West.
Walking on to the floor to snatch for an audience was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. I wish I had taken an extra 15seconds to fully appreciate how cool it was to be doing something I loved in front of an audience. A couple of years ago, I could never have imagined the excitement I felt about lifting heavy weight over my head and using a competition quality barbell and plates… No, really, it was life changing! I also would never have pictured myself chalking my hands in anticipation of my first Olympic meet and lifting alongside some of the strongest women I’ve ever met.
Crossfit involves a lot of Olympic lifting, but the biggest difference between a Crossfit WOD with a barbell and 6 Olympic lifts at a meet is the state of mind you need to be in. You have to concentrate and focus on yourself, and that can be difficult when all you want to do is cheer on your teammates and fellow competitors! I quickly realized that slow, deep breaths were going to keep my heart rate (and my nerves) down – I tried to put this in to practice when I was warmin gup my lifts, but stepping on to the platform really changes things! My heart raced as I pictured every lift in my head before they announced my name. Thankfully, Taryn was there to keep all of our nerves at bay, and I couldn’t have performed half as well without her words of encouragement and her guidance.
The Olympic lifting part of the day passed by all too quickly (I went3 for 6 and matched both my snatch and clean and jerk PRs!) and all of a sudden it was time for the first WOD.
I knew going in to this competition that I had a lot to work on in terms of general abilities. Crossfit is really hard. Every day, I walk in to the gym looking to get better at one tiny part of the biggest puzzle imaginable and occasionally it can be overwhelming. I try to harness that energy in to working harder and being more consistent, and it seems to work for the most part! I had been so focused on the Olympic lifting portion of the competition that I admit, I neglected to think about how hard 30 push ups can be after a long day. The workout (20 t2b, 30 push ups, 40 pull ups, 50 cal row) was one that I felt comfortable with, but those push ups smoked me. I finished that work out discouraged; however, I had a wonderful chat with Doc Roston (from Crossfit BC, a Masters Games athlete!) afterwards, and his advice was to do the things you hate (or are not so good at) every day until you love them. Let me tell you all, I’ll be doing a LOT more push ups in the near future and I will never let them slow me down again. I would love company while I chip away at the thousands of push ups I’m going to complete in the next year, so please feel free to join me!
The rest of the weekend was tough – 3 WODs in a day after a full day of competition the day before really takes a toll on your body. It can be difficult to eat when you’re constantly preparing for the next workout, and this was an extremely precious learning experience. I know now how important it is to fuel your body appropriately (despite not feeling one little bit hungry) and how important it is to sleep! I know all of the Raincity competitors took advantage of our ability to have a car nap and that was the saving grace for us all after a long couple of days (also, a huge shout out to seat warmers after a deadlift WOD – Katie, Joce, Justin, you know what I’m talking about!).
All in all, the IceBreaker challenge was an incredible experience. I learned a LOT: how much sleep to get, what to eat, what not to eat, how important it is to mobilize before AND after workouts no matter how tired you are, and most importantly, what I need to work on to be better. The list never gets smaller, but I’ve been able to narrow it down after this weekend and that is pretty exciting.
Another thing I learned this weekend is how incredible the Crossfit community is in Vancouver. Every single person I met, competitor, spectator and judge, was genuine, kind and supportive. I’ve been around this extended group of people for a year and a half now and I’m consistently impressed with how many people remember my name, know about my successes and genuinely ask how I’m doing. It’s the very least I can do to return the favor and continue the relationship. I wanted to specifically mention a couple of people here: Roe Stewart, from Crossfit North Vancouver, coached me through every shoulder to overhead rep in “Simple Jack”. It was heavy and long, and she stuck by me the entire time. I could not have moved that bar without her encouraging voice telling me I could do it. Roe is kind, friendly, genuine and an incredible competitor. I hope to be just like her someday and look up to her immensely.
The next person is Terry Peters, also from Crossfit North Vancouver. Terry is a Masters Games athlete and is one of the most inspiring athletes I’ve ever come across. He is consistently the friendliest and warmest person in the warm up room and always has great advice. More often than not, I take myself and my Crossfit career way too seriously- I’m guilty of putting pressure and being hard on myself. After the first WOD (and an unfortunate bout of tears on my end), Terry approached me with some really sage advice: “Zina, remember: It’s just a workout”. I repeated that line to myself over and over again this weekend because he is entirely right. We do this for fun! The goal here is to be fit and have fun doing it. Terry embodies all of that and I respect him so much for it.
Our #RAthletes showed up in full force this weekend, and we are all grateful for every yell and cheer. We have a strong community in our box, and it’s really cool to see it representing on a bigger scale.
Lastly, I want to personally shout out every single Raincity competitor. Justin, Vil, James, Liana, Katie, Joce and Misch – you all inspire me to be better on the regular. Training with you guys has been a pleasure and a blessing, and I can’t wait to get back at it. You are all exceptional athletes and should be proud of everything you left on the floor this weekend. Our team is pretty exceptional, and I am eternally grateful for every hug, every word of encouragement and every smile you guys provided this weekend.
As usual, a huge thank you to Simon for being the greatest coach any athlete could ask for. Your advice helped immensely and you did the beard proud. Taryn, again, you are incredible and I look forward tomore PRs that you’re responsible for.
I encourage every single member of Raincity Athletics to give competing a try. Whether it’s an individual event, the CAL, in class or with yourself, push yourself to that place. It’s scary as hell, but
once you start… You really can’t stop.
I’ll see you all around 🙂