It’s over. I finished 14.5 and have completed my first ever Crossfit Open. What an incredible experience. Over the past five weeks I’ve learned a lot about Crossfit, myself and the true meaning of competition.

My first dilemma was whether or not to enter the open. After several weeks of going back and forth, talking with fellow athletes in my box, and reading articles on why one should enter the open, I decided to do it. If nothing else for the experience, and what an experience it was.

Challenging Ourselves

During 14.3 I pushed beyond my previous max to get 15 reps in at 275lbs. That’s not a lot for the big guys, but it’s 50lbs heavier than I had ever worked out with in a WOD before. Proving to myself that I could lift that weight inspired me to attempt a new dead lift PR. My goal for this year was to break 300lbs on a dead lift. Last Thursday I hit 315lbs. I don’t think I would have even tried that weight, had it not been for the Open.

Competing with Ourselves

I prefer to think about “participating” in the Open, rather than “competing.”  However, I did find myself pushing harder to beat the clock, get one more rep, or go beyond the plan I had in my mind.  While most of us strive to do this in just about every workout, the Open amplified things.  It made the competition with myself that much more noticeable.  I have never competed in a Crossfit competition.  I may be more inclined to do so after participating in the Open.  I made the comment once that I need to worry about improving myself before I try to beat anyone else.  I’ve learned that even competition is not about beating anyone else.  It’s always about beating yourself – faster times, stronger lifts and constant improvement.

Fellow Athletes Make a Difference

While Crossfit (for the most part) is an individual sport or activity, it cannot be done alone. The first few workouts I did on my own, during a regular WOD time, on Monday afternoons. However, beginning with the third workout, I started meeting a lot of the other open participants from our box on Sunday afternoons for the sole purpose of completing the open workout. This made a huge difference. Everyone was there for the same reason and there was a larger pool of people to cheer you on. Athletes that had just completed the workout and know what it takes to make it through it, are cheering you on every rep, inspiring you to work harder. Due to my schedule, I had to complete 14.5 solo. However, Lori, my judge and our box owner was there to push me. Without her cheering me on, I’m not sure I could’ve made it through such a killer workout. So while it may only be our two hand on the bar, we are not lifting that weight alone. This goes back to the sense of community that makes Crossfit so great.

Overall I was very happy about my Open experience. While there were some individual workouts and movements (overhead squats) that killed my numbers, it was still a great experience. Now I know where I need to focus my improvement efforts to be a more well rounded athlete in the future. While it’s easy to watch the numbers and constantly check your ranking, you have to remind yourself that’s not what matters most.  The fact that you are participating, that you are a part of this – that’s what’s important. The Open was a valuable learning experience and I highly recommend it to every Crossfitter.

Never quit. Keep moving. Every rep counts.

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