At about this time last year I was watching the Reebok CrossFit Games from my couch and had absolutely no clue what I was observing. I had given up on yet another gym membership, this one at a Muay Thai club. Call me crazy, but I was not appreciating getting kicked in the head by Rhonda Rousey wannabes. As I was flipping through the stations, I happened upon some very fine, very fit, ladies doing handstand push-ups on ESPN. As a fan of beautiful women, naturally I presented my girlfriend, Pam, with a reasonable explanation as to why we should not, under any circumstances, change the channel.
I did not understand the concept of CrossFit, and, truth be told, I wasn’t interested in learning. My focus at that time was on two things exclusively.
1. Sexy females wearing booty shorts.
2. Annie (Thor’s Daughter)
While I am not proud, I must admit that what drew me to the sport was no different than what captures the attention of every lesbian, and straight teenage, middle-aged, and old-aged man. A splendid ass and 6-pack abs. These ladies were ripped and gorgeous and I simply could not stop noticing every squat, lunge, lift, and rope climb.
Then there was Annie. She was a force of nature and the broadcaster seemed fixated on referring to her as “Thor’s Daughter.” I remember getting enraged on her behalf and my inner women’s right’s activist began questioning “Why is Thor so important? Was he a founder of the sport? Can’t he just let his daughter have her moment?” I thought for sure that ESPN would at least pan the camera to Thor so I could witness the hype, but that moment never occurred. Why, you ask? Because “Thor’s Daughter” was actually Annie Thorisdottir (pronounced, Thors-Dot-Er). It was her LAST NAME! (My vodka-induced confession to this humdinger was made to some of my fellow athletes two weekends ago, after I grasped that there were even more “daughters” out there.)
On August 6, 2014, one month after my La-Z-Boy introduction to this extreme sport, I waltzed into WildFire CrossFit, fainted in the deep end of the Kool-aide pool, and have yet to recover. As a matter of fact, I plummeted so deep into this “cult” that I purchased tickets to attend this years Games.
There were seventeen of us who committed to making the trek out to Carson, California and the buildup surrounding it was the real deal! A few friends and I spent countless late nights text messaging and tagging each other in Instagram posts every time one of our favorite female athletes added a new, enticing photo of themselves wearing just a sports bra. I was scouring the Reebok and Rouge websites for new tank tops, t-shirts, boy shorts and headbands. Work took a backseat to ESPN-3, which was live-streaming the Games across the Internet, and my sweet “Pam-Cakes” was doing her best to encourage conversation about anything unrelated to this damn sport. One night she went so far as to ask me about baking. I don’t know what a muffin tin looks like let alone how to use one! “Sorry my love, but unless you’re about to either hand me a cookie, or show me an unseen photo of Brooke Ence eating a cupcake, this conversation doesn’t stand a chance.” I was in the proverbial zone.
The morning of the road trip had finally arrived and I was out the door at 4am to pick up my CrossFit friend, and fellow junkie, Bri. We were delusional in our thinking that we absolutely NEEDED to get to Carson right away for the start of Friday mornings activities. With the I-10 being partially closed due to a bridge collapse at the Arizona border, we absolutely had to be on our way as soon as the first cup of coffee hit our systems. Siri now estimated a five-hour drive as closer to eight hours. We were cutting it close.
We were making impressive time until we arrived at the detour. That was the point when, if given a choice to do over, I would have encouraged my dear friend to use the bathroom at an earlier rest stop and I would have looked closer at the gas gauge. There we were, cruising along with the top down, the wind whipping through our hair, belting out songs and majestic dance moves to Sirius Radio’s “80s on 8”, when I noticed that my gas tank registered at under a 1/4 and there was not a single hint of life for as far as the eye could see. It was us, the car, the music, the desert and a road in serious need of paving. Despite my visions of running out of fuel, being stranded and raped in the back desert and left for coyote chow, I opted to smile and make small talk about the Joshua Trees, the lukewarm 100 degree day, and, every now and again, a nonchalant inquiry as to when we might expect to find ourselves within a one mile radius of a gas station that offers diesel.
To add to my already building stress, Bri decided that she needed to stop and use the facilities. I pulled off the road into the only rest area available. My immediate thought was that this was not a “rest” area so much as a “rape” area. Perhaps my thoughts came from the man in the filthy cut-off t-shirt and jean shorts, who was sitting on the roof of his car, and glaring at us through the haze of his cigarette smoke. I made sure I gave him the look that said “I CrossFit bitch, step-off!” (It’s a real look.) We ushered as fast as we could into the stalls, handled our business, and, as I was about to stand-up, I heard Bri say “Oh my God! Don’t look down!” Naturally, I looked down to find that the restrooms were infested with tiny, black bugs. They were everywhere! On the walls, on the floor, on the toilet paper holder, and, come to find out, in the sink and on the faucet handle. I screamed like a schoolgirl at a New Kids On The Block concert, opted not to wash my hands, RAN out and proceeded to do a swift, Irish jig to rid myself of each insect that just assaulted every fiber of my being. I’m was quite certain that my “I CrossFit bitch, step-off” face just morphed into a look of “Take me, I’m yours.” (Also a very real look.)
Convertible top up, doors locked, we were now in the safety of the vehicle and on our way out of the depths of hell. All we needed to do before we could call our trip to the Anaheim/Carson area a success, was to fill up at an Exxon station, grab a Subway sandwich, and turn down a hitchhiker’s creepy, albeit generous, offer to make out in exchange for a ride.
It’s about to get real!
I was a CrossFit Games virgin so I decided to go with the flow and heed the guidance of the veterans. The main piece of advice that was shared was how critical it was to be out the door at 5:45am to make the 30-minute trek to the soccer stadium in order to ensure that we were first in line when the doors opened at 8:00. Those that experienced the 2014 Games did their best to explain the madness that was “Operation TST” (Tennis Stadium Tickets), but to grasp the true severity, the rookie in me would need to live through it myself. Factor in seventeen different personalities and athletic abilities, all of who were sleep deprived and severely under caffeinated, and it became a true spectacle.
Seating for the main events in the tennis stadium was on a first come, first served, basis and you needed everyone in your party present and accounted for. I called bullshit due to the sheer fact that not even ¾ of our party made it to the ticket table in a timely fashion, yet we all managed to sit together later that evening. I think the vendors, who needed to be there even earlier then we did, paid off people at the top of the food chain to watch us spectators make asses of ourselves for their morning entertainment. We didn’t disappoint.
The fans anxiously stood behind the green, iron gate with one eye on their watches and the other eye on the security team who was in charge of entry. A few times the test buzzer was sounded and we were like a pack of wild animals. We didn’t know whether to drop and do a burpee, run head first into the divider, or chug our coffee for time. When a Crossfitter hears “3..2..1..Beeeeeeeep” it’s game on! Much like the merchants, the security team was in on the fun at our expense.
When the real bell sounded and the gates finally opened it became the finest shit show I have ever seen; a psychotic blend of the “Running of the Bulls” and Pavlov’s dogs in Nano sneakers. People were pushing, elbowing, and hurdling over the fallen. I almost got run over by an ATV hauling water and the lady next to me was crying into the phone telling her husband she loved him. I don’t think she expected to make it out alive. Most of the vendors we ran by were cheering and laughing, although there were a few who dove for cover in their tents and recited a few “Hail Mary’s.” I felt the desire stop and explain what was behind this debacle; however, I knew that any pause on my part would make me look weak. It was kill or be killed. I kept on.
What felt like 20 minutes and 500 meters later, I made it to my destination and was reunited with my team. Chris, our endurance coach, had his iPhone bent around his kneecap and was bleeding down his calf. Everyone else was doubled over gasping for air, sweaty and annoyed. Mission accomplished though. Seventeen seats together. “This insanity better be worth it”, I thought.
To be continued.....