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A Better Rep.


A Better Rep.

SATURDAYS AT 8AM added to class schedule starting this week.  More class schedule additions coming Monday.
Competitor Program meeting this FRIDAY AT 5PM.  More details posted tomorrow. 
Essay contest results will be announced soon.  You guys wrote a lot of words and we want to read every one.  Also, Nicole has cried reading almost every essay, so it’s taking awhile to get through them.  We apologize for the delay.

on :45 seconds rest
2 min rest

Roots athletes at the 2012 Southwest Regional.

A Better Rep.

As many of you know, I spent a good bit of time over the past two and a half months preparing myself for regionals.  Double sessions, going in before and after work, meticulously preparing my every meal (yes Eric, we can eat some different meals now), avoiding crap food and situations that would lead to a poor nights sleep, and working my weaknesses to a pulp was pretty much the norm.  Approaching this weekend I felt more confident and prepared than I have ever felt for a regional competition (and this would be my fourth).

Then came the first workout – Diane.  I had set myself on a 4:39 performance – sub 5:00 for sure.  One set into the 15s and I was fatigued almost to failure and doing sets of 2 & 3 handstand push-ups.  I stayed focused but knew the outcome would be somewhat tragic – 8:16 was my time.  Just two weeks earlier I had done the workout almost 2:00 minutes faster.  

As I walked off the floor and disappointment started to build-up inside, my coach looked at me and said, “You have 4:00 minutes to be disappointed – and then we move on.”  Sure I was disappointed but I didn’t know how to be upset, I had given everything I had in that workout and couldn’t make sense of any of it.  And what did that mean for how the rest of the weekend would go for me?

That’s when the Regionals Demons of 2011 entered my head…

In 2011 I started regionals in a similar situation – with a performance that was so far off the mark that it devastated me.  It devastated me to the point that I completely shut down for the rest of the weekend.  I was embarrassed, I felt like I had let so many people down, and I let it affect every ounce of the competitor inside me.  I reached the workout now known as the 100s and saw it as my ticket out of there as in my head there was no way I could move on to day 3.  As I sat there doing the overhead squats, I kept thinking to myself how much I didn’t want to be there.  I shut down – I quit.

That experience, my resulting performances during that weekend, and my reaction to the situation has stuck with me for an ENTIRE YEAR.  It’s one of those deep dark experiences that takes my breath away every time I think about it because I am so disappointed in myself.  It’s not how my parents taught me to react to a less than optimal experience, it’s not the person Eric loves, and it’s certainly not the person I wanted to be or wanted my athletes to be.

A little research into that weekend showed me that had I given just a little more in the 100s workout I would have made it to day 3 and who knows where I could have placed.  But I was so consumed with my poor performance and what I thought every other athlete could do that I counted myself out mentally before the show even got going.

Flash forward to 1:00 minute after Diane and I realized that I was in the same exact situation as last year…

Could this really be happening again?  Yes Nicole, it actually did happen again.  Am I just really not cut out for this? Am I a has been athlete who understands the intricacies of CrossFit and its method but just really can’t hang anymore?  Do I love my sport but my sport has passed me by?  Should I just stick to coaching?

I had to decide – I could let this first performance beat me down and let the flood of negative thoughts consume my brain or I could move on and make the most of the remainder of the weekend.

And that’s when I made the conscious decision to react differently this time.  I was going to make the absolute most of every workout and crawl myself back to the top ten.

The next workout was nothing but motivating.  Sitting on my erg and looking across the floor to a crew of Roots athletes there to cheer me on made the difference.  I would go for it and leave it all out there.  The weaknesses I worked to a pulp died a quick death as I hang power cleaned 135 pounds with (sort of) ease.  The dumbbell snatch workout that took me 15:00 on Tuesday but which I practiced those damn DB high pulls religiously every other day for the past two weeks – that came together nicely in 7:24.  My perception that “I’m not good at barbell complex stuff” disappeared when I took 4th in WOD4.

For many, our perception of CrossFit is that it will make us fit, but it will do so much more.  Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit, once said, “the greatest adaptation to CrossFit takes place between the ears.”  And it’s true.  My decision to learn from my past experience and create a different outcome this year was more than I can gain from any backsquat or muscle-up – but it is CrossFit and its community that creates the environment for this type of mental magic to take place.

A huge thank you to everyone who came out this weekend, sent emails, showed support, and gave me high fives and hugs.  

I love CrossFit, I love my athletes, and I love that everyday we have a chance to do a better rep than the day, or year, before.

22 Responses

  1. Stacey Mandel

    Well said, Nicole.  I thought you were a great coach before, and now I find myself crying reading YOUR essay.  Thanks for your reflections.  I so wish I could have been there over the weekend to ROOT you on.
    I feel honored to be part of a community that pushes and supports each of us in the individual and collective ways we need to grow as people and athletes.  Thank you!

    1. Cassie

      I second that! Your essay made me tear up as well. You’re incredibly inspiring! Thank you!

  2. Grandpa Mojo

    Awesome article Nicole. Very insightful and inspiring. Thanks for this (says Grandpa Mojo in the midst of TWO pulled muscles in different parts of his body that have been sidelining him for weeks – and have been haunting him with negative thoughts and feelings…). – Going to work “between the ears” right now.

  3. Lucie

    Dear Nicole, you are the true winner in my book because climbing out of the dark place is the hardest thing for anyone. But you did it! Huge heart and cheers to you!!! L.

  4. JakeDurling

    I was in the class that applauded when you walked in this morning… and it’s all I can do to stop myself from standing up in the library right now and doing it again.  Congratulations not just for 9th freakin’ place in the Regionals but for inspiring others as a coach and as an athlete.  

  5. Paula

    And now we’re crying at yours. Your personal integrity and open- heartedness are incredibly powerful. We are so fortunate to have you. So proud, sister.

  6. Hillharris

    I only watched 2 of your wods on Saturday and my outlook had been super charged. You ‘ve watched all our wods all the time. Thanks for giving us the chance to be inspired and so proud. 9th=1st in all our eyes.

  7. Cschroeder11

    As someone who witnessed and covered your performances at last year’s
    and this year’s Regionals, I was so proud of what you accomplished and
    overcame last weekend.  I was cringing as well after Diane, glad you
    finished it, but was so worried that you would have flashbacks of
    those same damn dreaded HSPUs from a year before (which you confirmed
    you did).  But your reaction and performances in the final 5 workouts
    were so impressive.  You moved some serious weight in those workouts
    on par with the rest of the top women.  You are a Top Ten athlete in
    our Region (and I’d say even higher), and you proved it everyone last
    weekend.  2011 is just the outlier in your impressive Regionals
    performances.  And speaking of reps, your 115 snatch press-out rep was
    spectacular!  For those that did not see it, it was Nicole’s third try
    at the weight (she had 50 seconds to do 20 DUs and a snatch for each
    weight in the snatch ladder event).  Literally as her 50 seconds were
    up, Nicole locked out the snatch to advance to the next weight.  It
    was an amazing effort as most of you know trying a rep at the same
    weight for a third time is usually futile, especially under a time
    constraint.  Without that clutch performance, Nicole would have been
    out of the top ten.
    Keep it up Coach!

  8. Special K

    Even though I am no longer at Roots I still haunt your blog for inspiration and boy did I ever find it today!  Congratulations Nicole!  I ‘rooted’ for you and my new coach Juli Bauer all weekend and love the coincidence of my personal connection to you two, placing you together in the ranks. Inspiring FIT women fighting the same fight as ME, a not so fit woman. 
    Negative self talk is my biggest battle in CF/life.  I bet I actually get an un-banded PU, HSPU and DU’s before the day comes that I stop doubting myself mentally.
    The change of boxes this spring had me in a funk.  I still hit the WOD’s five times a week but I rarely showed up with my game face. I miss Shane, and his refusal to be my best friend. I miss Paula, Cassie, Brenda, Katie and Sherri as they were those I kept my checks and balances against in how I was doing and when I needed to push harder. I miss the view of the Flatirons from your garage doors.  I miss having more than one erg machine. 🙂
    Crossfit is definitely so much more than a physical journey. The mental strength I gain each day is why I keep coming back and the lesson I learned during this transition is that no matter how flexible and adaptable I believe I am, I still in my core grapple with change.  My challenge has been to face it head on and open myself up to all the familiarities one can find in something different. To be vulnerable when inviting the new, as well as welcoming to all it has to offer.
    After a heart to heart with my new coach about all that was going on with me, I have catapulted myself into a phenomenal week. Set two PR’s and down 9lbs in the first week of a Paleo Food Challenge.  Sometimes that is all it takes, recognition of where you are at… acceptance that it is okay to have those feelings… and commitment to push forward and grow from that very moment.
    Thank you for sharing your story of the mental journey.  It is relieving to know it is not just me but even more exciting to know that if it is possible to run laterally in the mental game of CF with an athlete as FIT as you, then someday it will also be possible to run along side a FIT athlete in the physical game too.
    Here is to OUR continued growth! Get it!

  9. Lori

    Nicole, it has all been said many times and is said all the time when you aren’t listening- you are an inspirational leader with exceptional heart and soul. 

  10. LisaHogan

    Nicole — kudos to you for taking on the competition and for taking the time to put it all down in writing and share it with us.   I also am side-lined with pulled muscles and wrestling with the demons that brings on.  It helps to appreciate the struggles of the uber-fit and to remember that the head and heart are where the real power resides.   Thank you for reinforcing that.

  11. Pam

    When I checked the results from friday and saw your time I thought, “man I bet she is pissed” because you had said you wanted to best 5 minutes. Never did it cross my mind that you would feel like giving up!  I don’t know the history of your past Regionals but based on my short exposure to you as a Crossfit athlete and coach (I just started month 5 at Roots) you don’t give up.  You have more heart, more drive, more mental magic than anyone I’ve ever met.  Just know that the real Nicole (the one that fights through) is what comes across to newbies like me and I am super happy that is what came out at Regionals this year!!  You rock!

  12. Melissa Gillen

    I want to say that I found your performance at regionals to be inspiring. You are a solid athlete, and it is abundantly obvious how much work you put into your training – your form is silly good! Just silly! More so, it is obvious what caliber of coach you are by the over abundance of love and support that you were shown. I count it as a privilege that I was able to witness your performance and cheer you on. Well done Nicole!

  13. Eric

    I’m so proud of you for this awesome post and your performance this past weekend. I saw you flip the switch mentally Friday night and follow that up physically for the next two days. Awesome effort from an amazing woman. I love you! (but please never do that last second snatch press-out thing again, I might not recover)
    Roots Crew-
    Y’all are so freaking fantastic! Thanks so much for everything. We are supremely lucky to have you all on our team… and next year there WILL ABSOLUTELY be a Roots team competing alongside Nicole at Regionals!

  14. This is the GREATEST blog post in the history of the world!!! I just saved it to my computer so that I have it for whenever I need help finding the silver lining. I’m all teary-eyed! 
    Nicole, you are amazing and inspiring in so many ways! I haven’t cut off my wristband from Regionals yet because it reminds me of you being a sick competitor and a tenacious coach. You always push me to go bigger, heavier, and faster in workouts because you know that I’m capable of more, even when I’m unsure of myself. I’m so proud to call you my coach and honored that I get to learn from you on a regular basis. Thanks for being the shit. 

  15. Macgyver

    Wish I could have been there to cheer you on in person Nicole but I was thinking about you all weekend no doubt. You never cease to surpass my expectations, and last weekend was no different. Excellent job!

  16. You’re amazing and I’m pretty sure that I’m not just speaking for myself when I say that you’re the reason I’m at Roots. From that very first informational session to early-morning jokes and general badassery, I’ve been inspired by you for the past three years! Thanks for all you do!

  17. karin

    Everyone knows Diane is such a bitch!
    I had to laugh when you told me first thing you did after regionals was to go off the rez and eat ice cream. The first thing I did when I got back from Castle Rock was to go on the rez because I was absolutely inspired by you and the community you built.
    The Glassman quote is similar to what I tell my med students-“the most important part of your stethoscope is between the earbuds.” I love how you and all your coaches nuture our biceps as well as our brains and walk the talk. It’s astonishing.
    Congratulations and thank you!