The Friday after an Open announcement has always been one of my favorite days. Despite being an avid sleep enthusiast, when my alarm goes off bright and early, I am actually excited to get out of bed, knowing a grueling workout is in my future.
On Friday, March 3, during the final week of the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games Open, I put on my favorite matching blue workout set and hopped in my car, ready to take on Open Test 23.3.
While warming up the wall-walk standard, I struggled to get my hands to the tape but shrugged it off, blaming it on performance anxiety. I thought once the adrenaline kicked in, I’d be fine.
As the clock counted down from three, my heart hammered with anticipation. At the sound of the buzzer, I flopped to the floor, launched my legs onto the wall, and began to walk my hands to the tape. But it felt as if I were glued to the ground. I managed to get the edge of my left palm to the line, but my right hand lagged behind. It was only a centimeter away, and as I attempted to shift it back, my arms began to shake, and my body crumpled to the ground.
This happened about 20 more times.
Over a span of six minutes, I managed to fall on my face, start crying in frustration in front of a gym full of people, and accumulate a mere 16 reps in the Rx’d division.
I could use the excuse that I broke my foot … over six months ago. Or that I had just moved to a different country and was not acclimated to the Canadian winters.
But the truth was I hadn’t consistently practiced the wall walk since its Open debut in 2021. I’ve always turned my nose up to the movement, siding with my safety net of snatches and double-unders during my after-class skill work.
So, as I mastered my already-strong (and favorite) CrossFit movements, my wall walks just got worse.
When 23.3 was announced, I knew I was going to try it as prescribed. Double-unders and snatches were finally in my wheelhouse. How bad could a few wall walks be (famous last words)?
Although Mal O’Brien and Danielle Brandon made walking backward, upside down, and up a wall seem easy, the brutal truth was the opposite — especially when you don’t practice the skill regularly.
In CrossFit, nothing comes easy. It requires consistent hard work and a focus on the movements you are bad at. And once we master those movements, we’re challenged with something else just as hard.
So after I finished sobbing on the drive home, I reflected on my emotions. Although incredibly frustrated, I only had myself to blame.
Instead of crumpling up my scorecard and throwing out my 16 reps, ending the Open on a low, I returned on Monday to retry 23.3. But I wasn’t going to do it Rx’d again. I already made that mistake once (and the thought of falling on my face for six minutes was kind of traumatizing).
I needed to do the scaled version. It was the best test for my current fitness ability — and what would ultimately bring me closer to having the skill as prescribed.
This time, I finished Open Test 23.3 with a score of 211 reps and a smile on my face.
Failing my first attempt at 23.3 forced me to take a step back and evaluate my progress. I have never felt so many different emotions in a matter of hours, from frustration to embarrassment to determination to improve.
But if the Open hadn’t challenged me in a way that put a spotlight on my flaws, I wouldn’t have been motivated to work on them. So, yes, I am thankful for those miserable six minutes. They made me a better athlete.
Cover photo by flsportsguy photography