“There are two ways of exerting one’s strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.” – Booker T Washington
The scene… a week out of CrossFit Games Central East Regionals I was starting to feign confidence, inviting people to come and watch, ignoring aches and pains, and telling myself if I fake it enough real confidence will set in … right?
“Are you ready??” “How do you feel??” “It’s really not that hard” “You’re ready, right??”
All questions pouring in from very supportive coaches, friends, and family members.
“Yeah, let’s do this” “I feel good…” “You’re right, just have to do it” “Yep, ready”
In reality… my head and body were screaming… NO!!!!! I’m completely scared! I feel terrible, my whole body hurts, and I really don’t feel good about this… But keep smiling, stay positive and fake it to make it!
What was I doing the night before the biggest day of my competitive life began? Crying… I know… big surprise… but laying in bed the night before I was so scared I was in tears. Scared of what? I’m still not sure… scared of the “what ifs” and unknowns, scared of failing, scared of letting people down and disappointing my trainers and supporters.
Now it’s showtime, morning of Day 1 I felt oddly removed and calm – not confident… removed, absent. Ok… let’s practice some handstand push-ups (one of the movements in my first competitive workout of the day)… ouch… my arms are feeling heavy and weak and that neck pain is back. Ehh shake it out and go again. MMM these feel off… These are supposed to be what I feel good about. It’s ok – keep going. Practice a few deadlifts… wow – those feel good (not the norm). Everything is fine… this is what I keep telling myself. Everyone else seems so confident. I feel like I’m on an island.
The judges line us up in our corrals I nervously introduce myself to my judge and the competitors around me. No one is nervous… or they’re better at hiding it than I was. As we walk out to the floor and my name is announced my arms are visibly shaking. Our great fans from CrossFit New Albany scream their heads off (they are the BEST in the world). I try to look up to them and see anyone to calm my nervous, but my eyes are all blurred… I can’t really see anyone around me.
We had to do two practice handstand push-ups (HSPU) … man I wish I could have put those in the bank! Then two deadlifts. OK… 3, 2, 1 GO! The whole workout was 21-15-9 Deadlifts and HSPU … a benchmark CrossFit workout called Diane. My game plan had been do the deadlifts in two sets: 11 and 10 then onto the HSPU. Instead I felt good and went all unbroken… hell yea… this is going great I thought. To the wall for HSPU. I had to get 21 HSPU just to make it to the next workout.
I believe I got 7 in my first set. Then… no rep, no rep, no rep, move your hand, readjust, feet aren’t landing at the same time. “Come on Megan… you can do this… breath – shake out your arms – take a step back… DO THIS!”
This cycle went on for the next 8 or so minutes. Ending with a total of 20 HSPUs. 1 short of the minimum cut off. My poor judge was doing his job although I think a few of my 15 or so no reps counted, but all in all… I should have been able to do it even with 25 extra HSPU.
With one minute left to go I suddenly became very aware of my surroundings. I recognized the song that was on (Ni**as in Paris by Jay Z and Kayne) and started thinking… This is my opportunity…
I have a choice…
“The meaning of crisis is: choice”
I decided… I can either be that poor sport who starts quitting and acting like it’s someone else’s fault for their failure or I can continue to try, again and again, and if I go down… I go down with class. I kept thinking about something a great friend and coach told me… “If you fail, think about that 10 year old girl who is sitting in the stands watching you try and try and try. Think about the lesson she’s learning and the positive impact you’re making.” **Thank you Brandon! I wanted to make that impression and that impact so I continued to get on the wall and each time as my arms gave out, I got back up and tried again.
In the end, I was one rep short. I came off the floor, holding it together until safely in the arms of my husband where it all came out. We made our way outside where the relentlessness self disappointment started and the fear of facing my coaches began. I was truly afraid. My performance was NOT how they trained me and I owed them more than what I delivered.
Slowly making my way back into the arena… carefully avoiding eye contact with anyone I knew I was extremely embarrassed, shamed to even wear the “athlete bracelet” I literally sat on the floor underneath the bleachers with my mom holding my hand silent. It was over. All that work… months of training, months of missing time with family, months of being so strict on diet, months of putting my body through every extreme training I could think of… all over.
BUT the day goes on. My friends and teammates were still competing and how selfish of me to focus on my loss with I owed it to them to support them. Wiping off my mascara streaked eyes I gathered myself and started cheering and routing on each amazing athlete. Any time anyone asked me how I was I no longer faked it, I said… I’m pissed, I’m disappointed, not good. Then I’d say… if I talk, I cry, so let’s not talk.
As I drove away from the arena I started thinking… well… I failed. OK… now I suppose I don’t have to be scared of that anymore!
My mom told me in the most lovingly way… “Well Meggie, you know how you feel like you always come in second? Now you don’t have to worry about being second.”
Yes, mom, thanks… I’m last. “Well… you’re not second.”
As the quote above says… “There are two ways of exerting one’s strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.” In the end… I wasn’t able to “push down” enough to overcome my fear and insecurity (weakness?) but I’ve found the TRUE Strength in pulling up from disappointment and looking into the promise of more tomorrow’s and future success (and set backs) but living those days without the fear of failure!