Are You the Man (or Woman) in the Arena?

Rooseveltpo597p I may be foolish but I’m not timid.

The odds of me winning the CrossFit Albany East Coast Challenge are really, really small . . . but I’m going. I’m realistic about my chances as a fortyish female in very good (but not killer Kelly Moore-ish) shape. I’ll probably finish far away from the winners, just like I do in most triathlons and a good portion of the running and mountain bike races I enter. Where I finish never has anything to do with why I signed up in the first place. I am only peripherally competing against other people: mostly, I am competing against myself. It’s no different than having at the WOD: the others make me go faster just by the fact of them being there, and it’s nice to beat them, but the goal is to beat myself. Matt Williams, the baseball player, put it this way: “It’s not between me and the pitcher. It’s between me and the ball.”

I enter competitions to test myself and, also, for how it makes me feel. Quite simply, slap a number on my back or write it in Sharpie on my calf or my tricep and I am the Queen of All I Survey. I become, if only for a brief hour or two, like Teddy Roosevelt’s famous Man in the Arena:

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.

So I’m signed up for a CrossFit competition. Foolish? Maybe. But Albany is only a few hours’ drive away. I could make time for it or I could make excuses. I’m not ready. Maybe next year. I’m saving myself for the CrossFit Games in Aromas. It’s too far. I don’t have the entry fee. My cat needs a sponge bath. You get my point.

In triathlons, we have a saying: DFL beats DNF beats DNS. Translation: Dead F***ing Last beats Did Not Finish beats Did Not Start.

So get off your a** and sign up for your local CrossFit Challenge or the national CrossFit Games. Decide if you’re the Man in the Arena, or if you’re something less . . .

(Text by Lisbeth Darsh/CrossFit Watertown in Connecticut.)

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