Conquer, Compete, or Compare?

Team SydMac!

Yesterday, I competed in the Team RX division of the Summer Galt Games.  It was my second CrossFit competition, but first time competing in the Rx division.

I agreed to compete because one of my friends asked me to do it with her.  I reluctantly agreed (competitions, whether dance, figure, or CrossFit, carry a high stress factor for me).  We initially registered for the scaled division, but a couple of weeks beforehand, we decided as a team to switch to the Rx (more advanced) division, which was a decision we all felt was the right one, but was fraught with anxiety.

We anxiously awaited the event announcements on Wednesday, and when they released the 5 Rx Team workouts, I was initially relieved.  Despite the fact that I rarely Rx workouts at my CrossFit gym, the events in the Team Rx division were all things I could actually do (albeit some better than others).  The format was teams of four – 2 guys and 2 girls.  The first event partnered one guy and girl, the second event partnered the second guy and the second girl, the third event partnered both guys, the fourth event partnered both girls, and the final event was all four team members competing together, so each team member would compete in 3 events out of the 5.

My Clean PR
It’s ugly, but hey, you don’t get points for pretty…

I’ve gone back and forth about how much detail to provide about the competition itself, the events, and the results, and have decided that less is more.  The highlights are that I performed very well in my first event, which consisted of two movements I’ve only recently become proficient in: toes-to-bar and pistols.  In the second event, which was a max clean, I set a new PR of 125, which is a milestone I’ve been chasing for some time (bodyweight clean).  When I competed in the scaled division a year ago, I also had to do one rep max clean, and back then, I did 80 lbs – that’s a pretty sizeable improvement! In the final team event, we just did work and had a blast.

When it was all said and done, we placed 25th out of 26th teams, but I didn’t really care where we placed.  The fact I was competing Rx was an accomplishment in and of itself and is indicative of the fact that I am actually getting better.

I would love to tell you that overall it was a wonderful experience, but there were some downsides to competing.

I know I just wrote a post recently about finally being accepting of who I am and caring less about what other people think of me.  And I know that I am very much a proponent of “compete against yourself” and not worrying about where you stack up in relation to others.  BUT – in a competition situation, it is kind of impossible to have that attitude.  By definition, you are putting yourself out there to be compared to other people and to see where you fall in relation to others.  Before the max clean event, I overheard a few different pairs of girls discussing what they planned to open with – one pair decided on 155 lbs and another pair decided on 185 lbs.  Talk about disheartening!  Here I was hoping desperately to at least TIE my PR of 115 lbs and these girls were planning their opening lifts 40-70 lbs higher than any weight I had ever cleaned.  Despite making a 45 lb improvement between competitions, it made my new PR seem pretty pathetic.

I am kind of ashamed to admit to this, but let’s be real.  Despite the fact that I have generally been happy with the way my body looks lately, my mentality took a big blow come competition time.  There were girls with some phenomenal physiques there, and they got noticed by everyone.   My guy teammates and other guys were constantly commenting on how hot some of these girls were.  I felt like a squishy, unathletic blob.  And the thing that made me angry was the fact that I was at the Galt Games, competing Rx, and yet somehow, the fact that I didn’t feel “hot” or “cute” seemed to trump whatever athletic achievements I had earned.  This hashtag Performance Over Appearance girl was letting my old insecurities about my body rob me of whatever scraps of pride remained in my performance after seeing how poorly I stacked up against everyone else.

Do I regret the competition?  Absolutely not.  I chose to compete to get out of my comfort zone, to test myself, and to have a good time with friends – mission accomplished.  Did I learn that my confidence and self-esteem are a little more fragile than I thought they were?  Yes.  Competing is not easy, and a certain amount of mental toughness is required.  Competing is also not a necessity – I know plenty of CrossFitters who are amazing, but who have not competed.

So, what to do?  I can throw a pity party for myself over the fact that my Olympic lifting sucks compared to most of my peers and lament the lack of muscular definition in my upper body and midsection.  I can skip CrossFit several days in a row and wallow in some Ben & Jerry’s.  I can skip the WOD’s that don’t play to my strengths and scale the ones I do so that I don’t have to risk being the last one to finish.  OR, I can use that frustration the fuel my focus on training hard to keep getting better and remind myself that I had a six-pack once and it didn’t solve any of my problems.  Competition can make you or break you, and I refuse to succumb to the latter.  Onward and upward, my friends!  The Winter Galt Games are only six months away!






3 Comments Add yours

  1. Bethany says:

    I love reading through your blog. It is the mental battle that we all go through! I am competing in my first bikini competition in 11 days and considering moving to more performance based goals after. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Couldn’t be more true, but you have to remember we are all on our own journeys. I have only been training consistently (and really not as consistent as I’d like with missed days, etc) since last April. I have come a long way, but I am going to be competing against people who have been training for far longer and who were more consistent than myself. I am going in with the mindset that I accomplished something already, I don’t expect to win or even place, but I am bringing my best self and giving it my all. I guess I just have to remind myself that I am on my own journey, comparing myself to others who are on different journeys isn’t fair to me.

    Obviously, you know all of this, I just wanted to agree and support you. Thanks for putting yourself out there ❤

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s