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The CrossFit Tent is Open to Everyone

suefinishesOur gal Sue finished a triathlon today. I say “our” because she’s one of us, a CrossFitter.

You might not think a sprint triathlon is that big of a deal, but unless you’ve ever done one, you have no idea how hard it is. For competitors, it’s a big milestone. For Sue, it’s even bigger.

But Sue doesn’t want you to know that – in fact, she doesn’t want me to write this blogpost. She doesn’t want the attention, the spotlight, the focus. She wants to be just another CrossFitter. But you need to hear her story.

Sue came to me just over two years ago, when she was considerably larger and could barely walk a block, let alone run 3.1 miles, and bike 12 miles, and swim a half-mile, in the same stretch of time. (You can read her CrossFit story in the CrossFit Journal.) Now, 100 lbs lighter and seemingly 100 years younger, Sue finished her triathlon today. You have no idea of the pride in my heart right now.

But what Sue did was important not just for her, but it was an important lesson for all of us in CrossFit. Allow me to explain.

CrossFit is a big tent. A very big tent. There’s room for all sorts of folks and routines and attitudes in CrossFit – and we love it that way. We’ve got Olympic athletes and military members and grandmas and kids and soccer moms. We’ve got elite athletes and those who are becoming athletes for the first time in their lives. We’ve got room in the tent for all of them.

What we shouldn’t have room for, however, is the attitude that sometimes creeps in: The attitude that says that only some of us matter, that CrossFit is really only about (and for) firebreathers. You know what I’m talking aboutthe idea that only elite perfomance matters. It’s not a pretty sight, but I’ve seen it in some trainers and some affiliate owners and some athletes. You might have seen it too. It’s in the guy who leaves his chubby partner on the run during a “Team” WOD because he wants to return first and impress somebody else. It’s in the trainer who yells at his client because the woman is scared and she wants spotters on her back squat. And it’s in the affiliate owner who says that you’re not really a CrossFit trainer unless you make your athletes puke and bleed.

Well, I say bullshit. CrossFit, at its very essence, is about forging elite fitness. Forging elite fitness. It doesn’t say “outcome” or “results” – it says fitness. Elite, according to old Mr. Webster, is “the best or most powerful.” Sometimes, we’re forging elite fitness – we’re building the best feats or deeds – whether we’re in the front of the pack or the back. Fitness is a relative, evolving state.

Sue finished a triathlon today. In two years of CrossFit, she’s never puked and I think she might have bled only once from a ripped callus. (Good hand care maintenance.) But she’s cried, cursed like a sailor, laughed, and maintained a stiff upper lip. And her performance was elite today because, on a sleepy Sunday morning in the autumn-tinged Connecticut countryside, it was the best feat, and it was hard-won, and it was sweet.

Like I said, the CrossFit tent is big and we have room for many types and kinds. I love ‘em all. But my corner of the tent – the corner with Sue and my 43-year-old aging body and the “emotionally-disturbed” kids and the older folks and all the other non-traditional athletes – that’s the corner I like the best. We’re not coming in first, or winning any medals, but we’re changing the world one life at a time.

So the next time you feel the urge to beat your chest and look down your nose at the big girl, or the old guy, or the poor mover in the back with the terrible squat, remember Sue and her triathlon. The hearts of champions are sometimes housed in unexpected bodies. Take off your athletic blinders and recognize effort when you see it. You’ll be a better person for having a bigger heart – and a better CrossFitter for it too. True CrossFitters can see elite perfomance, wherever it may be.

And for all the “Sues” out there – whether you’re about to take on a tri or you’re about to take on a modified “Cindy” for the first time – we’ve got your back. Just go out and kick ass. That’s the CrossFit way.

(Text by Lisbeth Darsh/www.crossfitwatertown.com. Triathlete is Sue, about to cross the finish line while being cheered on by Melissa, CFW coach and friend, with baby Jackson.)

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33 comments
Anthony Bainbridge
Anthony Bainbridge

Sue - Congrats on the huge accomplishment! Stories like these motivate me as an athlete and a coach. Thanks for allowing Lisbeth to post it. :)

Lisbeth
Lisbeth

Dave -- thanks for being there for Sue! And Jeff -- thank you for the kind words! I'm glad to know that we're actually helping beyond the physical reach of CF Watertown. That means a lot. Keep reading. We're going to try to keep doing our part.

Jeff
Jeff

Thanks once again (I have lost count) for making your posts so amazing. I read you everyday, and everyday I am inspired and kicked in the butt and enthralled at this community called CrossFit. No wonder Coach would make CFW his gym and you and your team his trainers.

SueLoz
SueLoz

Thanks Dave...I love you.

Dave Loz (Sue's Bro)
Dave Loz (Sue's Bro)

YOUR GAL IS MY SISTER !! And I've always been proud to say it, and never more than now. I could write a book about how proud we all are of her... and I don't just mean the weight loss ('just', ya 'just' 100lbs. Next time you got to Home Depot go to the garden section and pick up 'just' 2 bags of concrete mix; or carry a 6th grader around for a day or so...) I also mean the attitude. Sure as a brother I could fill this little box with a rant about a sisters attitude (I'll say it again, Duran Duran DOES suck!) but as a person who loves his only sibling it makes me warm inside (mom's term) to see the change. I don’t write this just to say ‘yea rah rah’ cause I hate that crap. (we get that from Dad) I write it because my sister completed a F’n marathon! And I totally agree that a potential meathead firebreather can poo-poo it as a mini-marathon and I’ll say I’m sorry you’re probably over compensating for you own ‘mini-whater’ short commings. Don’t get me wrong, I love all types of sports and participate in as many as often as I can and I stand in awe of people who do things like complete at an Olympic level. To do some thing like finish the Iron Man triathalon is truly astounding! But I also stand in awe of people who could not do these athletic things but who quielty do things like work 70 hour weeks to support their families, or spend countless hours caring for someone else who is dying, and then doing it again for another person, and then again for another, and then without hesitation doing it again without ever being asked to. Having the internal fortitude, the guts, the big F’n brass balls to say “I’ll do it” and to NOT say “close enough” is what makes me (and I assume a lot of you) take notice. I agree with the postings above that while it’s cool to finish first or to lift the most does that really impress? We should be impressed by the people who aren’t ‘born with it’ but still get it done. When the big man came to your place and talked a few Saturdays ago (I was the ninja snapping the pictures) he said much the same and I enjoyed his talk. I think anyone that’s been around the block a few times appreciated his message: SHOW ME ! and Sue did.

Kim Malz~FitMom
Kim Malz~FitMom

Splendid post Lisbeth and CONGRATULATIONS SUE~what an inspiration to many! :)

becky
becky

I am a little late to the blog - a wonderful write up Lis. And to Sue - It is all true. What I love about you Sue is that not only do you rock every WOD hard and constantly challenge yourself, but you are always the first person there to help out someone else. Whether it is giving a lifting tip, speaking words of encouragement, or comforting others during their own "learning moments" - you are always there with a smile. You are a great person and a fabulous friend! I consider myself lucky to have met you!

Jill Mc
Jill Mc

My favorite crossfit article to date! Brilliant. Sue, congratulations! You should be happy your story has been shared (against your will!!) as it inspires not only those around you but people you've never even met. I love it!

jen
jen

Berry, that link is kinda strange.

Lynne
Lynne

Way to go Sue! And great points Lisbeth.

Lisbeth
Lisbeth

Beery, sure, but I think Jen just wearing boxer shorts would be really distracting in those photos.

Mike # 3
Mike # 3

Lucca will be there tomorrow as well. He is looking forward to it. Jen: Just a lucky guess. I will be in tonight. My heavy lifting sucks right now. That's why i need to do more. I need to start doing extra lifting before or after the WOD

jen
jen

Mike how'd ya know she was talking about me? LOl! Oh and since you like to lift heavy shit you should come to WOD today!

Lisbeth
Lisbeth

And, David, you're right -- apparently the payment button only lives in my head, because I never put it on the page! Whoops! But glad to hear that Abby and Chloe will be in CF Kids W. tomorrow!

Lisbeth
Lisbeth

(Well, I knew that, but I just wanted to say it.)

Lisbeth
Lisbeth

The Power Barn lives!

David
David

@Lis, I don't see the button on the CrossFit Kids page. Both Abby and Chloe will be there!

David
David

Way to go Sue! What a great accomplishment. Great post Lis. I'm reminded of a quote that our friend Steve Dumaine has on his FB: "A man must love a thing very much if he not only practices it without any hope of fame and money, but even ... without any hope of doing it well.—Oliver Hereford" I also echo Mike #3s comments about how hard everyone works. They inspire me and I too like it when my kids get to see everyone gutting it out.

Lois McDonald
Lois McDonald

Looked up the WOD at CrossFitOmaha and got that knot in my stomach and the voice in my head that says, "OMG! I can't do that!" It is a constant battle. Sue, congratulations and thank you for your persistence and fortitude! I am truly inspired!

Jennie Yundt
Jennie Yundt

Lisbeth, I'm proud to say that my CrossFit Fire corner looks a lot like your CrossFit Watertown corner. (though admittedly not as exciting) Whenever we get new people at the Fort, I don't brag about our top performers. Come to think of it, I always talk about the way CrossFit changed the lives of the LEAST athletically gifted people in the building. I am most proud of the accomplishments of the grandparents and nursing mommies, because I can relate to them. I wasn't an athlete when I found CrossFit. Matter of fact, I was the horribly out of shape lady choking back tears at my CrossFit Level 1 certification, wondering why the HECK I agreed to come do this. :-) Great post! Sue, you continue to inspire me. I tell your story to people all the time who tell me that CrossFit "is too hard for them". I am proud of you girl! Keep up the good work!

Mike #3
Mike #3

Thanks Lis. I get a little verbose when we talk about hard work, fun, sports and kids. Actually, I'm just verbose. It does matter if you are a turtle or a hare, just bust it all the time. I didn't take your comments as aimed at me anyway. I know you were referring to to Jen!

Kevin Daigle
Kevin Daigle

This is a great post, especially considering the post I made last night about why those who yearn to breathe fire are drawn to CF, and how it relates to our mental state and our previous (to CF) athletic lives. I should have taken the time to qualify and temper that message with what you've just written (quite eloquently I might add) here. Just like Fitness is relative so is being a "Fire Breather" There's a guy we train with at CFNE that doesn't turn in Josh Everett or Jolie Gentry results, but he KILLS it everyday...and he improves EVERY DAY. You'll also see him working quietly in the corner by himself doing extra technique work after/before WOD's and weighted pull ups etc. All by himself. THAT is what makes you a fire breather. Not the results, the fire within you is what makes you who you are and provides you with the heat you need to "forge" your version of elite fitness. Very well put Lisbeth....I'm going to link to this post on my Blog, I hope you don't mind!

Lisbeth
Lisbeth

*Note: That was not aimed at Mike! I love Mike! It was just a general rant. To each according to his abilities. Hares should race. Turtles, well, they turtle. And that's okay too. But hares should not turtle. Although I would love to sometime see a turtle hare.

Lisbeth
Lisbeth

That's the truth, beery. Every time. And great comments, Mike. Thanks. Sometimes, the person working hardest isn't the one finishing first. Sometimes, it's the person trying extra hard to get their hips to open, or struggling to get their feet into landing position -- because those things don't come easy to them. I love watching the firebreathers tear up a workout -- it's impressive -- but I also look forward to the middle and the back of the pack too -- because effort matters. But you know what makes me nuts? Firebreathers who don't go as hard as they can. Or who use less weight than the turtles. Makes me want to let loose some snapping turtles.

jen
jen

Yes Beery that's true.

beery
beery

Awesome work Sue... I hear a rumor that Sue finishes whatever round she is on for Every AMRAP even after time runs out. Is that true?

Mike #3
Mike #3

That's awesome Sue. I hope you are proud of yourself. You should be. Great post Lis and I agree completely. I would even take it a step further. Those that are not born with athletic ability actually work harder than those that are. Innate kinesthetic awareness makes everything easier. Elite athletes are freaks and truly rare. I teach my son and the kids I coach not to look at elite professionals athletes in awe but to look at those who display freakish hard work and fierce determination with admiration. People like Sue. I will tell my son this story. It is important. He happens to have a lot of ability as an athlete so I am constantly preaching have fun and always try your hardest. We don't quit. Sue's story just further exemplifies those points. He is getting it. He plays football now as a quarter back. Yesterday he scored 3 touchdowns. More importantly, he and a kid on the other team banged heads and he got sacked in the backfield. He cried a little and both kids left the game. After sitting out 2 plays he walked on the field handed his coach his ice pack and wanted to play. He scored his 3rd touchdown a few plays later. The other kid didn't come back into the game. That is why he will hear me tell stories like this repeatedly. That is why I like when he comes to watch at CFW. He sees a diverse group of people that refuse to quit. I haven't known you all long but your the hardest working, most dedicated people I have ever known. Thanks for having a positive influence on my kid.

Katarina Visnar
Katarina Visnar

Great post, Lisbeth! Thank you very much. Sue, you are a great role-model! Very inspirational. Congratulations from a bunch of CrossFitters in Slovenia! :)

Eric
Eric

Sue is 100% a champion. Congrats!

Pamela
Pamela

Sue, you're awesome. Completely inspiring. And, you're a triathlete now -- congratulations!

Jill
Jill

Nothing like being inspired so early in the morning! Great post & congrats Sue!

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