Losing Myself, Finding My Inner Beast

SF 1st Half Marathon 7/2011.

One year ago almost to to the day, I was broken. I had run a crappy race in San Francisco, and I was in such an ugly funk that I didn’t know what to do. Coupled with the SF Half “fiasco”, I had been overtraining, and felt as if I had fallen into such a deep, deep hole and couldn’t find the will climb my way out. I never felt so defeated! After I was done crying and feeling sorry for myself, I remembered that a friend had given me something months ago that I should use before it expired.  A Groupon. Yep, my friend, Ly, had given me a Groupon months before to CrossFit 209 Sport, a local “box” here in Stockton. She had tried it, however, did not enjoy the type of workout that was offered there, so therefore she passed it on to me, and I tucked it away in my planner, not knowing just how valuable it would be for me.

That day a year ago, I dug out that Groupon and called the number listed and timidly spoke to the man who answered on the other end. He introduced himself as Gabe, and over the phone he seemed non-threatening.  I explained that I was given a Groupon, and that I was interested in making, that I NEEDED to make a change in what I was doing in my training. Gabe was patient with me and my questions. He assured me that I would not die, that he would work to my ability, and that it would change my life. He gave me the schedule and we made a plan to meet. He assured me over and over that I would be okay.  I said that I was intimidated and afraid. He said be excited, that I’d have a good time, and he promised again that I would be okay.

Little did I know that that one 30 day Groupon, and that one phone call that I was too intimidated to make would really change my life. You see, I had heard of CrossFit and CrossFit 209 Sport.  I had seen these athletes who worked out there.  I watched them from afar, in awe, working out diligently, running up and down Thornton Road, and never believed myself to be of their caliber.  I was too afraid to step outside of my little box, thinking that I would just be scowled at, and the joke of the gym.  My friend, Gina, worked out there, and encouraged me over and over throughout the years to try. I did make it out there once when she invited me, however, she didn’t show up, so instead of me walking in, I stayed in my car and eventually left.

I showed up the next day, looking for the man I spoken to on the phone. I didn’t know what to expect. Over the phone he seemed non-threatening, but what would he be like in real life I wondered?! Walking into the box overwhelmed me. The music was loud, and there were fit bodies EVERYWHERE! It took everything I had to not run back into the safety of my car. I asked the first person I thought might be Gabe if he was Gabe – he was not. Instead I was directed to an individual who was standing at the opposite end of the building. He scared me at first … buff, fit, bald guy. I knew I’d be okay though after he smiled and reintroduced himself.  After a quick tour of the facilities, he had me fill out the waiver which I jokingly remarked, “Oh, you mean the ‘If I die here it’s not your fault’ waiver.” Then it was time to get moving. He directed me to a rower, showed me how to use it, said he needed to go eat because he was on a strict schedule, and left me alone to warm up.  Just like anything new – new job, new school, etc. – I felt sooooo out of my element, but lucky for me someone that knew me spotted me and reassured me that I would definitely be okay.  After a few minutes of the warm up, Gabe returned and led me to the area where workout would be held. There were quite a few people in that class and I remember thinking, “What the hell did I get myself into?” I don’t remember the strength portion of that day, or the WOD for that matter.  Gabe assessed my fitness and scaled my workouts to me. What I do remember of that day was that I didn’t feel that out of place. People were working out to their own ability and Gabe oversaw all of us. He explained everything thoroughly, demonstrated appropriately, and helped all of us. When it came to the WOD (Workout Of the Day), I felt as if I were part of a team. I didn’t expect the encouragement, especially from people who I had barely introduced myself to, but I got it … and it made me feel “at home.” I couldn’t wait to go back. I was hooked after the first workout.

Love Prowler Pushes!

Those 30 days flew by like *that.* In that short amount of time, I learned that I was not in the best shape that I thought I was in, that there’s always something more to learn, that there’s heavier weight to be lifted, that I had muscles in places that I didn’t know I had muscles in, that I am so much stronger than I ever believed myself to be, and that I wanted MORE! I wasn’t happy just running anymore … I had burnt myself out on that. And I loved MMA (mixed martial arts), but I knew I needed to mix it up. I knew that I needed a new challenge. That “challenge” found me when Ly handed me her unused Groupon. Exercise for me is like crack for a drug addict. I had found my crack, and I signed up for a three month commitment, then three more, then three more, and so it goes.

Deadlifts! My FAVORITE!
Me with my trainer, Gabe Subry and with the “special” birthday WOD he made for my birthday!

It’s been a year now. I’ve climbed out of that hole I fell into and buried that sucker!  I can tell you that I have grown and gained much in this last year – both literally and figuratively.  It’s been a year of ups and downs – I injured my shoulder in December, and Gabe had to modify a lot of my workouts/lifts/WODS for a few months until it healed. I’ve made a lot of new friends who all inspire me everyday! I workout with some really, FUN, awe-spiring, motivating, kick ass individuals. I could sit here and tell you my 1RM for the deadlift or the squats, or I could write down my times for the various “Girl” WODS, but it’s all irrelevant. They’re irrelevant because what I’ve gained is FAR MORE IMPORTANT than the numbers … My self, my sanity, my sense of belonging.  I’ve gained a little weight in the form of muscle – I’ve got a little more muscle mass and a lot more definition than I’ve had in the past. I’m eating better, and I feel better.  I can tell you that I walk a little different – more with my head held high, and with a little more confidence. I’ve impressed myself with the amount of weight I can lift/squat/snatch/whatever, my first pull-up, my first hand stand push up, and how much I can endure without throwing up.  I can also tell you that I feel sooooo much better about myself, not so self-conscious as I have been in the past.  I view and see myself so differently. I am truly much happier with my little body. I’m far from close to being finished. I have so much more work ahead of me. Different goals to hit. Life is good.

Subry at the 2012 CrossFit Games!

My trainer, Gabe Subry, is NO joke. He is the REAL DEAL.  As a CrossFit Games Competitor – The 18th Fittest Man on Earth! – he trains us as he would want to be trained.  He treats us all as athletes, and pushes us so that we can see that we can always do more, lift heavier, run faster, etc. All of the trainers/coaches at CrossFit209 Sport– Gabe, Vince, Xavier  “X”, and Zach – are exceptional. I see them encouraging and pushing their athletes/clients to help them better themselves and to help them reach their goals and surpass their expectations. No workout is the same. Every day is something different and I love that.

Amazing Grace!

CrossFit 209 is a family-like atmosphere – they treat you like family there. Not only that, but my family works out with me, including my special needs daughter, Grace, who LOVES CrossFit Kids Coach Tara! She is excited about her CrossFit sessions and talks about it constantly. I’m really proud of her and love her enthusiasm! I never believed that she would be so passionate, but she is and it makes me happy!

My CrossFit 209 Family!

Would I do it over again? Hell yeah. Would I still be as intimidated as I was? Oh yeah. CrossFit has taken me out of my comfort zone over and over and over again. Every day.  However no matter how many times I ask, “Is it going to get easier?” My trainer says, “No. It will not get any easier. You should always push yourself to where you feel uncomfortable. It will not get easier, but you will get stronger.”  And he tells me, “Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.” I know that it’s the only way that I will improve so on most workouts I dig deep and push thru until I’m done.

Feeling awesome after our workout!

What would I say to those just starting? Remember that everything new takes time. Don’t be afraid.  Ask questions. Always ask questions, especially if you don’t understand the movements.  Don’t be intimidated by those people that you see when you first walk into that box.  I had to remind myself that these individuals have been training for 1, 2, 3, or maybe even more years and that I couldn’t expect myself to do the moves or lift the weight that they could lift after just a few months.  I had to humble myself and not be so hard on myself when I couldn’t finish WODs in a certain amount of time, or that I couldn’t lift the weight at Rx.  What I have learned is that these people that are my Box-mates, they all work and train very hard. They’re people just like you and I – mothers, fathers, those with full-time jobs, or extra responsibilities, etc. But they’re all down to Earth, very motivating, and always helpful. I have never experienced being laughed or scowled at.

Learn the terminology. I wish I had done more homework prior to starting CrossFit. I didn’t understand a lot of the terminology when I first started.  I had lifted weights and weight trained, however I really hadn’t performed a lot of the movements that they were doing.  There were a lot of named WODs – Fran, Grace, Elizabeth, Hero WODs – that I had no clue of the significance. The movements of the WOD were all written out on the white board so I always knew what the WOD consisted of, therefore I never worried about that. In the beginning I felt out of place and fumbled a lot. With time though, I have improved and have started to settle in.  I found these two articles recently that would have helped me immensely had I read them before I started: Know Before You Go: CrossFit by Laura Schwecherl, and The Ultimate Guide To CrossFit Lingo by David Tao, both of which can be found on the Great List website. (Click the titles to access them.)

Seeing changes.

When you walk into that Box, regardless if it’s just your first workout  … Consider yourself an “athlete” because you are. You have accomplished what many people only think about and wish for by walking thru those doors, and when you finish that first workout I promise you that you WILL feel accomplished and leave you feeling like a million bucks despite the fact that you may felt as if you thought you would die. Yes, it is scary and intimidating, but after some time, you will find that it is not. The battle is half won once you walk thru those doors and finish that first workout.  To be able to say, “I did that!” is an AMAZING feeling.  I promise you that!

You ready?  3 … 2 … 1 … Gooooooo!

What Am I? I am BEAST MODE!

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