Tl:Dr It's still fun!
At my gym, we've been fortunate to participate in the CrossFit Games Regionals every year since it's inception. Located in the Canada West Region, we've weathered a lot of changes. As the sport has grown, we've done our best to grow along with it. In the early days, 30 teams were invited to compete in Richmond, BC. In 2015, CrossFit established the "Super Regionals" and only 15 teams from Canada West were invited to throwdown against the North West Region in Tacoma, WA. Then in 2018, big changes came our way as North West was combined with Northern and Southern California into the West Coast Region. Canada West would be given only 5 spots for teams/individuals to compete at the new "West Regional" in Del Mar, CA.
Our competitors pulled together, supported each other, dug deep throughout The Open (the 5-week long qualifying process) and earned themselves the 5th of those 5 coveted Team invites. 2 men and 2 women were selected to represent our community (Carly, Parker, Courtney, and Pat) and off they went to California!
At the end of the competition with 6 events in the books, the Team from our gym placed 30th. "Out of how many teams?" you might ask.
That's last place, if you're keeping score. In past years at the Regional competitions, I would see teams or individuals in last place and I always wondered what that's like. Are they having a good time? Are they disappointed? As always, there's no better way to understand something than to experience it for yourself. As it turns out, last place is still pretty fun.
At the start of The Open, there were 94 teams entered in Canada West and 472 in the West Coast Region. That's 566 total teams and ours is the 30th fittest among them. That's still really damn good. To say we were just happy to be there is not an understatement. Qualifying for Regionals is a huge accomplishment and it's getting harder and harder every year. As the sport grows and the level of competition increases we are very proud of our damn selves for continuing to represent at the next level. These are not professional athletes, they are not full time CrossFitters, and we did not craft a super team by recruiting athletes from others gyms. These are cool people that like to bust ass to be as good as they can be while still maintaining the balance of commitments to careers, families, etc. Each year that our gym is invited to throwdown with the best is an opportunity that is not taken for granted.
Photo via The CrossFit Games
At any level, it's important to keep that perspective. When you first start CrossFit, you will probably find yourself at the bottom of your gym's whiteboard. But even if you're the slowest, you're still doing better than all the people that aren't exercising at all. You keep showing up, working hard, and you see the progress. Eventually you can "RX" your first workout . You'll probably have the worst RX score, but you'll be proud of your damn self anyway. You're doing better than all the people that aren't yet able to do what you can do. And so on and so on it goes. At each new level you achieve, you will be the worst of the best but you'll be happy to be among the best.
Victory Comes From Within
The weekend came with many sweet moments of their own personal victories for Team BRIO. Events went better than in practice, communication flowed, and sets were done unbroken. The placing on the bottom of the leaderboard did not detract from the satisfaction and elation experienced from a job done to the best of their ability. They were happy, they had fun, and they came out closer friends than ever.
All smiles after finishing event 6 under the time cap (their personal goal) and earning their best event placing of the weekend.
To find true satisfaction, you set small goals within the bigger picture - "do these lunges unbroken", "finish under the time cap", "get zero no-reps", etc. Another one for the team was not to take 30th place on any single event.
PWOD: Not the worst at any single event!
Like any day for any person in any gym, the score that goes up on the whiteboard is not the real measure of success. The slowest time might actually represent the greatest victory and conversely, the most amazing score might not even reflect a full effort or true challenge for the speediest exercisers. You establish your Personal Win of the Day and celebrate your improvement in whatever form in might come on that particular day.
Finding satisfaction from within leads to the long lasting, serotonin-driven contentment I wrote about in "Happiness vs Pleasure Seeking in CrossFit". Chasing scores on the leaderboard, on the other hand, gives you fleeting hits of dopamine. The kind that become less and less satisfying and aren't always there, despite how much you want them. Constantly seeking external validation only creates frustration.
Satisfaction does not equal complacency
To say that the Team is happy with their performance is not to say that they like being last place. No one aspires to be last place. Experiencing a new level of competition is simultaneously a gift and a kick in the pants. The kind of kick in the pants that leaves you humbled but hungry. Hungry to bust your ass for the next year and get better.
Photos via The CrossFit Games
Being a human being requires you to continue to adapt and change as you go through life. To be happy with where you're at without the desire to continue to grow and improve is stagnation. You might be king of the world in high school, but if you're still doing the same things you did in high school 10 or 20 years later, it's weird and sad.
Sending 4 people to compete among the best at Regionals (no matter where they finish) brings a new vibe to the gym when they return. It's a renewed sense of buckling down to earn more and avoid complacency. It's good to get out of our bubble and witness first hand just how fit people can be. It's an act of bravery to put themselves out there and line up next to some of the best teams in the world. As a community we are super proud of Carly, Courtney, Parker, and Pat for representing us on the big stage!
Here's to working even harder in the year ahead!