Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Taranis Titan Challenge 2013

It has taken me a little longer to write about this than it has in previous years because this year, unlike others, was almost overwhelming and in a very positive way. In past years we have never seen the kind of support for an athlete, be it supportive text messages and emails and phone calls all the way to so many people making the trip down to support Jen. Hell even I was getting Text messages and emails because not everyone had Jen's contact info! The outpouring had a lot to do with the athlete that we sent as well as what our little gym has become. Of both of these reasons I am incredibly proud. The gym is realizing my original vision of what my dream gym would be and to say that I am proud of Jen as an athlete, a coach, a representative of our gym and most importantly as a friend is a colossal understatement.

Jen being a very numbers oriented person told me that she, "felt really good about the weekend and all the amazing support she has received, but between you and me (she) didn't do very well numbers wise."  I understand where Jen is coming from but have to disagree with her. THE LEADERBOARD DOES NOT TELL THE WHOLE STORY. In fact it is a very small part of it, almost inconsequential in this case.

This time last year Jen and Freddy came down to Victoria to check out the Taranis Winter Challenge and she showed some interest in trying it sometime. At that time she barely had a pull-up couldn't do a handstand push-up, couldn't do a ring dip and a number of other things that desperately needed work if she had any hope of competing respectably. So when we got back from that weekend serious work needed to be done. Jen threw herself into it training 2-3 hours almost every day, dialled in her nutrition and worked her ass off for it day in and day out. She was at a huge disadvantage because she is a very tall woman and had gained some weight (all muscle) to help support her longer levers and was hoping to compete in a sport where it is a huge disadvantage to be as big as she is. There is a reason that almost all the top female CrossFit athletes are 5'1"-5'4" and between 110-130lbs. Jen may not have been blessed with the physical gifts of a CrossFit athlete but she had heart. I have trained some high level athletes and had never seen an athlete with as much heart and dogged determination as Jen has.

Leading into the last few weeks before the competition, as with any athlete competing for the first time on a pretty big stage, Jen had doubts. Was she good enough, did she work hard enough, was she going to embarrass herself?  After a few long conversations she was reassured that she would be just fine. With her build we were really hoping for a good balance of heavy weight and "gymnasty" stuff. When the workouts were released this was not the case, lots of high volume, lots of light weights and an entire workout that was a gymnastics skill she couldn't do. She was disappointed but worked hard to stay optimistic.

When it was game time Jen flipped a switch and was ready to go. She attacked the workouts with intelligent aggression and pulled out some amazing times. They were not the top times of the competition but they were easily PR times for her. She was able to take her game to a whole new level when it mattered. Now I know you all are thinking that I am going to say that the sled pull workout where she came in 5th overall is the workout I am most proud of Jen for but it is not. I'm not going to lie, it was spectacular and I have never seen Jen just grit her teeth and grind it out to that extent. Keep in mind that regionals athletes and some of the best CrossFitters in BC were collapsing and crumbling during this workout while Jen seemed to be able to just keep running. No, I am probably most proud of the workout that Jen would deem her biggest failure. She was more than giddy about doing the barbell complex, after all this was dead centre in her wheelhouse. She lost focus for only a moment and it ended in almost the worst case scenario. On top of that she had 1 minute to get her act together and tackle the workout that was completely outside of what she knew she could do, burpee bar muscle-ups. Jen's intelligence as an athlete shone through and she went straight for the burpee chest to bar pull-ups (also not her strength but at least she could do a few) and went after them as hard as she could. She ended with 27 in 5 minutes and had removed a good portion of her skin on her left hand in the act but her quick thinking and ability to regain composure after something so devastating was in itself spectacular. After all greatness doesn't come from following the easy path it comes from overcoming adversity.

All weekend Jen navigated the event with poise and character, smiling all the way. Never before have I seen an athlete in a sport as competitive as CrossFit make friends with athletes from competing gyms to the point that those people from the other gyms start cheering for her....even though one of their athletes is competing in the same heat. As a representative of our gym Jen is unbelievable. She competes with courage, honour and a sense of character that I have not seen in a competitor before. While she feels that she placed low, her 22nd place is our 1st place. Her power does not come from the number that she placed in a competition, her power comes from her ability to inspire us all to work harder to achieve greater things. Her power comes from the fact that almost half the gym made the trip down to cheer her on. Her power comes from that smile, even on a cardboard cut out it is infectious, and her ability to use it no matter the obstacles that face her.

Jen from the bottom of my heart I want to thank you for your colossal effort this past weekend. I want to thank you for being an absolute dream athlete to coach. I want to thank you for elevating our gym to the place that I had dreamed it would go. I want to thank you for the best fucking 22nd place finish I have ever seen!

All right enough of this sappy garbage lets go lift some heavy shit!

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