Friday, January 11, 2013

Judge and Coach

Me, a judge?  At crossfit?  I’m definitely not qualified.  What was I thinking? 
 I’m crossfit newborn, only 3 months old.  And like a baby, I’m absorbing all the details with wide eyes and little understanding.   The language is foreign: AMRAPs, TANAKA, HSPU, Wall Climbs, cleans, jerks, snatches, 1 rep maxes and all for times and PRs.  It is a lot to understand at 6 am and there are times when I just  give up and think “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it”. But I’m curious.  What is it all about?  It does make me push myself beyond the gym.  Why?  How does it work?  What’s a competition like?

I joined crossfit because I want to get pushed past my limit.  I like to feel strong and to progress.  And I am.  But a judge?    I’ve never done a Squat Clean and Press before.  I’m still trying to get my butt under my knees as I squat and largely struggling.  Yet, as a judge I’m responsible to claim reps for athletes that can squat further than my tight hamstrings will ever allow.   Is that hypocritical?
Saturday, I was a judge at crossfit Resolution Revlotion 2 competition despite my reservations.  My job was to count repetitions and to make sure that competitor’s form was adequate.  I was overwhelmed and unsure.  Would I be able to even notice if shoulders were locked, squats were low, deadlifts were set down instead of dropped?    

It was a grey and drizzly day that chills to the bone.  My toes and fingers were completely numb in thirty minutes.  The entire competition was outside in the street outside the crossfit box.  The Workout of the Day (WOD) consisted of 2 minutes each of jump rope double unders, 60 heavy Squat Clean and Presses, 4 hill runs, 100 burpees and another heavy 50 deadlifts shared equally between a male and female team.  And it must all be completed in 45 minutes. 
In plain language, my first judging assignment sucked.  I was assigned to stand at the top of the hill in the rain to make sure athletes reached the line at the top before moving down.  It was cold.  It was raining.  The athletes were in pain.  I hear that hill is a 60% grade and I’ve run it before, it knocks you down a few notches.       

Following this, I had two solid heats to judge.  There were “lanes” drawn in kids chalk on the concrete street.  I took over lane 6 of 9.  My first couple were from a different crossfit box and dressed in florescent yellow.  She had on a black and yellow tutu and could squat lower than my tight hamstrings may ever let me.  I admired her strength,  a front squat of 105 lbs is impressive.    They were nervous and amped, fidgety as they readied themselves. 
And then the clock started.  The fun began. 

I know that a judge’s job is to keep the athletes accountable.  But I admire the pursuit of one’s potential.  I admire people that seek it in almost any noble form.  I couldn’t be so close without pushing them forward in whatever way I could.  I had to cheer them on too. 
I kept them going with the count, encouraging each one as they hit near their limit.  “Only two left!”  “just  Seven, Eight, nine”  and “you are at 95 now”.  “Next time, 25 reps each”.   “You got this one”  And of course “Excellent, awesome job!”  

I literally felt their pain as they lifted the weight, my thighs burned and my back hurt during deadlifts.  I was part of their team, not just an observer but part of their race.  I wanted them to keep going and I gave them whatever energy I could to ensure their success.  This is coaching, not judging.  I transferred my power to someone else, placed it in their hands and empowered them.  I got lost in it. I found my flow. 
It was a grueling workout.  The male competitor in the first workout was in so much pain by mid-workout he could barely move.  His jumps barely lifted from the ground and I had to warn him to get some air in them or I wouldn’t count them.  His eyes were glazed, he moved through them at a crawl.  He looked like he would pass out more than once. The second heat, an athlete turned to me halfway through her burpess and said “I’m going to throw up”.   Her face was so sincere and pained, it stopped me mid-cheer.  I believed her.   But to her credit, she took a break then hit the WOD slowly and completed in under the required 45 minutes. 

I admire the determination, the resolve, the persistence.  Each athlete bumped up against their limits and pushed hard. 
The end of my first heat, the athlete in the yellow tutu said I was the best judge ever.  It was awesome.