Sunday, July 28, 2013

Dragon Boats: 2013... the anything BUT riff-raff racing edition!

Hi all,

Well, as I quite literally sit in bed recovering from the weekend (okay, maybe I should have drank more water yesterday in the heat... lesson learned), I have been reading the Dragon Boats page on facebook and smiling as it has been lit up with positive comments from the entire team and our CrossFit community. Awesome.

First of all, with this post, I want to send "mad props" to my co-captain Randy Hills. This guy was all over it behind the scenes, and had the passion and drive to pull this thing off long before I came into the picture this year! Back in March, he was already thinking dragon boats! Once I came into the picture, it was awesome to be co-captaining with somebody already so organized and driven. Randy had everything together and was always thinking a few steps ahead with the what-ifs, and what-thens? (which, let's be honest, in the final stretch, we had quite a few of those!). So here's to Randy!

As for the day of the races? Well, there is much to be said. I always love this day for a couple of different reasons; I love dragon boating for the community, and I love it for the competition. I think it was fun for all of us to walk into the park yesterday, proudly sporting our Synergy shirts, knowing we were there to defend a first and third place finish. C'mon, purple shirts just SCREAM intimidation. Don't they? :)

And along with the purple shirts, the sense of community was phenomenal. With the gym growing at the rate it is, it was really nice to be able to spend an afternoon with many people I haven't really been able to talk to before. We have some real gems! We also have a really great adopted gem. We got to know each other, danced, ripped up some shirts, laughed, and Dale BBQ'd. There was much BBQ.

Now that we've covered one of my favorite parts of the dragon boats weekend, time to move onto my other favorite part... the competition! On Friday night, after a stressful scramble of not knowing if our final male would show up (he did, and we were all so grateful!), we took on the 250m sprint with everything we had! Unfortunately, in our practices, we had not accounted for the additional noise of other teams' counting, and we lost our rhythm. Yet, even so, we still pulled out a second place (to the Pirates) finish of fifteen teams! Solid! I was particularly impressed considering we did so with the minimum amount of guys allowed in a boat... I believe this says two things: first of all, our females are JACKED, and second of all, our males are JACKED. That is all.

When Saturday morning came, our team members were some of the first to the river. The river looks so beautiful at 6:20am (below is Brander's picture). All was quiet, leading up to the events of the day.

Once everybody from our team began to arrive, I cranked up my iphone for all to hear and began dancing (like a moron), partially because I wanted to get everyone excited, and partially because I, myself, was already ridiculously antsy. We were the very first heat of the day (which is why everybody was required to show up for 6:45am) and I was incredibly pleased to see everybody arriving on time. There was no stress of looking for any members of our team after getting called to line up... they were all there! Props to all of you for that! Being in the first heat was a bit strange though, because nobody had really warmed up by the time we were called, but out we went anyway. 

 I'd like to say we had a pretty awesome first race. The start felt good and for the most part, we were in rhythm. We were only racing one other boat in our first heat, and we won. I do not recall the exact milliseconds of this race, but we came in around 1:21. After all the other teams' times were posted, we were sitting around 8th place of 37 boats for race 1.

For race 2, we wanted to shave off some time, and we did! We shaved off a second, clocking a time around 1:20. At this point, the waiting game began. Our goal going into this was to make it into division 1, and those two races did, indeed, put us there! I'd also like to add, this was the race where, when going under the bridge to begin the race, Dale offered favorable fashion advice to a passerby on the bridge. I believe this shook off some nerves for many people on the boat. Good show, Dale, good show. You just never know what's going to happen with that guy on the boat. Fantastic.

Going into the final race, the boat was nearly dead silent except for the odd motivational comment; everyone was intensely focused. We knew this was the race for all the marbles. We were not in the final heat (with the Pirates), but we were up against Envirotec, and Black and McDonald. Both teams put up an awesome fight (with some of the fastest posted times of the day!), and it was quite literally a photo finish... between Synergy and Envirotec. The water was choppy, nearly filling the boat, but all the teams fought, and fought HARD! I was walking back to the tent with a member of Envirotec, and neither of us had any idea what the outcome was. Here's the photo finish (we are the blue boat):

After the final race, knowing we were not in the final heat, none of us had truly expected a top three finish, so the majority of the team went home to meet us later for the after party. Well, things got interesting at the awards ceremony...

First of all, in Division 2, Black and McDonald posted a ridiculously fast time, winning 1st place in their division. I didn't realize it until I looked over and saw Chris Reid beaming that they were the team in our final heat, coming in third place... meaning we had a good time, too. Then, they moved onto the division 1 results. I leaned over and said to Brander that the Pirates raced very well, and deserved a big win. Then I was shocked... the Pirates were called for third place, with a time around 1:13. Then even more shock... Enrvirotec was called for second, with a time around 1:11. Then we all lost our minds when Synergy was called, racing at a time of 1:10, to once again claim the first place trophy!

I think, for all of us, even those of us racing last year, this victory was the sweetest. Not only were we racing with over half a boat full of awesome peeps new to dragon boating, but also, we did so without many of our core amazing athletes (who are in California for the games, or are just away). It was amazing to represent as "Beasts," and back it up with a first place finish. As we took a picture with the trophy (those of us who were still there... I wish we all were... there was just no way to have known!), I was overwhelmingly proud... proud of us, and proud of our gym! Not only did our team overcome many last minute shakings and restructurings, we also overcame racing with the minimum number of males allowed (8), directly against other teams with 11! This tells me something... what we are doing at Synergy WORKS.

I am so proud of our team. Way to represent... you bunch of BEASTS!!! See you next year to defend. :)


Kimmy G

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Hitting that wall; it's a good thing

Hey Guys,

So, yesterday, I was talking some awesome ladies from the gym; at one point, we were discussing some of our favorite things about CrossFit, and it dawned on me... one of my favorite things about the sport of CrossFit is hitting a wall. Going off of my last post about the Spartan race, this got me thinking. Fear is a wall.

Even just walking into the gym for the first time was intimidating. It's not because the gym wasn't full of incredible and welcoming people (because it certainly was and still is), but it was because everything was so new, and so different from what I had become accustomed to. Looking back, joining the gym was probably my greatest moment of fear and doubt, yet it turned out to be, unquestionably, my best life decision ever. Because, really, now I'm finally living.

There have been a number of instances, over the past two years, where I've been scared to try something new. I can think of many times I hit a wall... of fear. Or, you know, in the case below, an actual wall. There's something so powerful about being afraid and conquering anyway.

The picture above was from my first ever CrossFit competition, the Bridge City Beat Down in 2011. At this point, I had been doing CrossFit for just over 5 months. This was certainly not the first time I tried something outside of my comfort zone at CrossFit, but it's one I recall as a benchmark victory of mine, after joining the gym. The week before the competition we were given the hint about the wall, and my heart nearly stopped. I was never one to jump fences, and I honestly didn't know if I could clear it. We weren't allowed to try it out (to keep things fair for competitors from other gyms) until the actual day of the competition, so my nerves were running rampant. I was afraid, but I jumped... and surprise, surprise, I got over that wall. Then I did it five more times. That fear turned into a great victory. Had I not challenged myself to actually face the wall, I very likely would have always wondered what if.

Yet, recalling other similar moments of fear, and the victory that came from it, I have been able to face and conquer new challenges. This little mental reminder challenges me to run headfirst to the next wall, and hurdle myself over it. I know I may not always be victorious right away, but I'm no longer willing to avoid something because it makes me uneasy. The evidence of facing fears leading to victory is too much to ignore, I think.

Just for example, I can think of numerous examples in the past couple years of things that have scared me and turned into victories. Such as...

1) Climbing a rope. I'll probably always be afraid of heights, so this was a hard one. It took trusting my new found strength enough to allow myself to get safely to the top, and back to the ground.

2) Getting on the bar to even try pull-ups. In my fast-track, I had so many bands attached to my feet, I may as well have been on a trampoline. Yet, I was still totally freaking out about having to hang on the bar. It took me quite a while of doing ring rows until I told that fear to go away and tried out some pull-ups with bands. Another victory despite fear

3) Running. Oddly enough, taking my shoes to the pavement was probably the thing that scared me the most. With some work, and some awesome CrossFit programming, my endurance has picked up significantly. While I am certainly not what I would consider to be a real runner, I do run sometimes just for fun. I count this as a huge victory.

There are so many things I can think of, and instances within CrossFit where I've been challenged to step outside of my comfort zone. I have learned that a comfort zone breeds mediocrity. While I am not the picture of perfection, and have been, at times (recently), frustratingly busy with life (involving school and work and sleeping and eating), I am learning to embrace the feeling of hitting that wall of fear. Fear, when conquered, means new victory. I love this about CrossFit. This does not mean I will be immediately successful at something that scares me, but it does mean, with perseverance... one day, I might be.

When that next wall comes, may we all have the courage to face it, and jump.


Kimmy G

Saturday, July 6, 2013

This is SPARTA!


A week ago today I ran in the Spartan Race with a group Synergy beasts! It was some experience. In the last couple of years I've made the decision to try and do more things that scare me; often, I've found, these things are the most rewarding. Two summers ago, this was racing in my first ever dragon boats event; it wound up being one of the most fun days I've ever had, and a benchmark that inspired me to get my butt into some crossfit competitions. Last summer, it was running my first 5K in the Mogathon... running across the finish line was one of the most incredible mountain-top moments I've ever had. So, this summer, when Scotty brought up the idea of running the Spartan race (a 5K run with obnoxious obstacles and a TON of mud), I signed my name on the dotted line. Summer adventure, locked in.

Aside from some bloopers like getting horrendously lost in Edmonton trying to find the site, and our group having to run in two different heats, the race itself was incredible. When it finished, I actually found myself feeling sad and wishing it would have been longer. Strangely enough, going into the race, I wasn't even freaking out. This is ME we're talking about, I should have been freaking out. Instead, I was excited! I liked not knowing what was going to come at me, and I love the opportunity to challenge myself. In a Spartan race, you find out what you're made of.

We got there and found out the entire race was taking place on a ski hill; in total, we ran up and down the hill 5 times. Yet, with my team around me, I was having a blast... the hill didn't matter so much. There was really only one part of the race that had me a little bit terrified... the monkey bars! I've never had the monkey bars gene, and I don't recall ever doing them. I thought, for sure, this would be the obstacle I would fail at. I forced myself to get up on the bars anyway and give it my all. When I made it to the end and the race official said I was clear, I was in complete awe. Sometimes it's so cool to realize new things you can do. That's part of what made this race so awesome for all of us. We scaled walls together, crossed suspended cargo nets, pulled each other out of mud pits, flipped tires, crawled under barbed wire, carried sandbags, dragged concrete bricks, threw javelins, jumped over fire, and all crossed the finish line together. It was amazing to see, in a situation like this, how each of our strengths and weaknesses worked cohesively to keep us moving and get us across that finish line. This race would not have been nearly as phenomenal without the team mates I shared it with.

Unfortunately, the picture below does not have our whole team; due to the directional confusions, we wound up running in two heats (though, we were with the rest of Synergy in spirit, and we love you guys!). Below are the team mates I ran with.

All in all, I had a pretty incredible time at the race, and left feeling accomplished. I also felt like I wish the race would have been longer; running with the team made everything ten times more fun and awesome. What will I do next year that scares me? Hmm. Thinking a tough mudder perhaps? I am taking suggestions for sure. In the mean time, I am just going to enjoy the awesome feeling that comes with another challenge accomplished. It still blows my mind to look back at all that has happened in the last couple of years. This is living, and I love every moment of it. As always, I am still so proud to be a member of Synergy with all of these amazing people. Thanks for a great race.

Having said all of this, I'd like to issue whoever is reading this a challenge. What scares you? Sign-up, and do it. You owe yourself a happy surprise. :)

Until next time... (stay fit, and have fun? Haha)


Kimmy G