The CrossFit Open - Inspirational Thoughts from an Athlete!

It’s Open Season, Ballard CrossFit!  For our gym family, this is a great time of year.  We wanted to share with you all a little something that Andrea DosSantos wrote.  Andrea is our current January Member Of The Month, a long-time Ballard CrossFit all-star and a leader of the #6amnation!  The first portion is something that Andrea wrote as she considers participating in the CrossFit Open.  The the next portion is the response of one of her dear friends, fellow #6amnation athlete, and our 2015 Ballard Award Winner, Alisha Aaufi.

We’ll be posting some of your Coach’s thoughts on the CrossFit Open a little later this week.  And, we hope to see ALL of you at our Open Happy Hour this Friday night at 7:30pm at the Gerald!


From Andrea...  

The CrossFit Open as defined by CrossFit Headquarters...

"The CrossFit Games Open is the world's premier test of fitness. Since 2011, the five-week five-workout online competition has accurately ranked the fitness of thousands of competitors.

Held in CrossFit affiliates and garage gyms, the Open is designed to be accessible to all athletes while rigorous enough to challenge the world’s fittest. Fourteen-year-old high school freshmen compete in the Open, as well as their 77-year-old grandparents and everyone in between."

Each week they announce the WOD (Workout of the Day) and then the athletes have 4 days to complete the WOD while being judged by a certified judge.  In 2014, the last WOD 14.5 (5th WOD of the 2014 Open) was the following: 

WOMEN - (includes Masters Women up to 54 years old)

21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps for time of:

65-lb. thrusters


For time!  Never before in an open workout.  “Argh! Why do I do this to myself”, I was thinking during the torture.  Just thinking about it now I get butterflies in my stomach.  In the middle of doing the WOD, I did not want to finish.  I said so to Erin, my friend and coach, who knows me very well.  She said, “You will be very pissed with yourself if you don’t finish.”

Why the butterflies? I was worried about the 50 people staring at me and cheering as I jumped up and over the bar, got down and then up off the ground, and finally lifted a 65# bar.  All while being bigger than I want to be, sweating, and generally feeling very miserable.  At the end, this picture was captured.

Looking at this photo, and others taken that night, transports me back to the energy and emotion of that night. There is also a video of my last five reps and captures the moment I completed the WOD within the 30 min time cap.  I was overcome with joy and very proud of myself.  I did it!  Erin was right, she is one smart lady and an amazing coach.  I would still be angry with myself if I had quit.

Three years later, I still have the random person who comes up to me and says that picture inspires them.  Really?  Me and my sweaty big old non-CrossFit body inspires you?

The CrossFit Open session is coming again.  I have participated for two years and loved every minute of it. But at the same time, I have dreaded every minute of it.  However, this year I feel different for some reason.

I have been doing CrossFit for three years.  Three years!  It’s the only physical activity, sport, or exercise I have consistently done in my life.  But after all that time, I am still not where I want to be. I am not able to do dubs; where you jump once and the jump rope goes around twice, box jobs, pull-ups, wall climbs; the list goes on and on.  I have definitely not improved this year.  I think I am slower than ever and not as strong as I was last year, or as strong as I wish I was.  So why do I keep doing CrossFit? I still love it!  What surprises me the most is how many times “my box”, Ballard CrossFit, uses that picture.  I cringe each time I see it and am reminded of that night.  But it now inspires me!  Dig deep, as my coaches say.

I keep doing it because I am a better person for doing the CrossFit Open.  It pushes me more than anything I have ever done.  I am proud of myself each time I finish a WOD and it rekindles my love for CrossFit all over again.  It makes me love “my box” more and more.  It makes me realize that I am a part of a strong community that will know and fully understand what I am going thru and how to support me.  I am always the last one to finish a WOD, so they all know how to cheer me on!

It also pushes me to be better.  Not only better at CrossFit, but to be a better person in general.  To be close and intimate with that uncomfortable feeling just before they say 3-2-1 go. Doing the work during the WOD and then everyone watching you as you are last! I know that CrossFit makes me feel more for people that I encounter in life that are struggling with something. It makes me a better community member at my box and a better mom.  I know that taking what I have learned in CrossFit and applying it to parenting has helped my kids be more empathetic and it has helped them understand and push through some uncomfortable situations.  I love them knowing that mommy is very strong and it is ok to push your body and your mind to be better in your sport…in your life! I am proud that I am a strong role model for my son and daughter.

I started writing this to help me through all my thoughts, emotions and fears in regards to the Open.  I now I want to do it; but feel so conflicted at the same time.  This is my sport. Time to step up and take the challenge.  Be a better athlete, person and box member. Maybe I will get a dub?  Maybe my first pull up?  I encourage any CrossFit athlete to sign up for the Open.  Regardless of where you are physically.   It will change you forever and I promise you will not regret it.

From Alisha...

This is my friend Andrea. She wrote a piece on the photo above and it inspired me to write something in response.

The photo shows Andrea right after finishing the last workout of the CrossFit Open in 2014. The workout consisted of two god-awful movements – a fat pile of thrusters and over-the-bar burpees (if you don’t know, google…and then thank god you’ve made it this far in life without knowing what the hell those are) to be completed as fast as possible, within a 30 minute time cap. That was the task at hand, and Andrea completed every damn rep. If you ask Andrea about this picture, she’ll tell you how it was one of the toughest workouts she’s ever done. But then she’ll tell you how it was also one of her best moments. She’ll tell you how she was so happy Erin was there as her judge – that she needed her – to tell her she should to finish when she wanted to quit. Not for a better or faster time, not to be a better athlete, not to get a better workout, but to do it for herself. And she did!

This photo has been seen by probably every member at our gym. I’ve been with Andrea when members she doesn’t even know have come up to her and told her how inspired they are by it. It cracked me up how confused she was when they walked away, like “That was weird… Inspired? By me? Ok…” Well, yeah. Inspired. Inspired is perfect. That’s exactly what I feel when I look at this photo. When I look at this photo, I see our gym. I see the reason I go every day. And at the same time, the reason why I get a little knot in my stomach right before I go every day. I see our community. I see pride. I see support. I see an athlete who fights, and a coach who fights alongside their athlete. I see resilience and exhaustion. I see pure joy.

Right now, Andrea doesn’t know if she’s going to do the Open this year. And I didn’t write this to convince her that she should. Honestly, if she really doesn’t want to, I hope she doesn’t – I hate doing shit I don’t want to do. Here’s what Andrea wrote at the end of her letter to herself:

“I started writing this to help me through all my thoughts, emotions and fears in regards to the open.  I know I want to do it; but so conflicted at the same time.  This is my sport. Time to step up and take the challenge.  Be a better athlete, person and box member.”

Competing in the Open isn’t what makes Andrea a good athlete, person, or box member. It’s that she’s going to be there anyway to take part – in one way or another – because of the passion she has for this gym and her friendships with everyone there. Obviously I want her to compete (like everyone) – she’s my homie! And she would KICK ASS. I throw down with her almost every morning, so of course I want that for the Open too. And I have no doubt in my mind that people will be inspired by her if she competes. But at the end of the day, this is about finding sanity, joy, and health in the midst of life. It’s hard to find that, but we have it here. And Andrea is a big part of that for a lot of people, myself included (since day 1!).