A League of Their Own
Throughout Texas there are hundreds of CrossFit affiliated gyms, who each have members that come from all backgrounds. Men, women and children show up daily to become the best versions of themselves.
For some, it does not stop at just “getting a workout in.” Some of these people have the drive to compete. Many are former high school and college athletes looking for a way to fill the competitive hole leftover after graduation. For some, it’s their first time ever in a competitive arena. CrossFit aids these people who crave the feeling of competing. They provide avenues of competition from the Open, the Sanctionals, and the Games. For us average CrossFitters, we have our local competitions to fill the void.
Bring in Mission CrossFit, located in San Antonio, Texas, who has found a niche within the female community of CrossFitters. For the past seven years, Mission CrossFit has put on “A League of Their Own, a Women’s Only Fitness Challenge.” Teams of three compete in the Minors or Majors division. Four workouts throughout the day test not only individual fitness, but how well the three women can come together. Recently, I had the opportunity to compete in it.
I do not have much experience with team sports. I grew up with a weight problem and my only real form of exercise was horseback riding. My team consisted of a former college athlete, Kyrah, who had just joined the gym and a busy mom, Natalie,who had been striving the past year to lead a better lifestyle and improve her overall health. Our team, Trifecta, was accompanied by two other teams from CrossFit Backward Arrow, which is in Abilene, Texas. Coaches and supporters from our gym made the trip down along with us. The owner/head coach of CFBA, Josh Boynton, spent his entire day making sure we each had his individualized attention, advice, and support.
We all camped out under the same tent in the parking lot behind Mission CrossFit. Setting up in the early morning, all of us caffeinating and eating a variety of foods we hoped would fuel us throughout the day. Athlete briefing brought on the nerves, which for me, were founded in the thought of letting my team down. I only ever competed on a team once, and a few times individually. I was not used to others depending on my performance.
In the blink of an eye, we were heading into the warmup area for our first workout. Workout number one consisted of three rep max back squat, two rep max thruster, and one rep max shoulder to overhead. This was probably my favorite going in. I love the feeling of getting a heavy lift. This was also our most planned out workout. Natalie had made CHARTS, telling us what weight to attempt and when. It even had the plate math on it so we could move quickly and efficiently.
We breezed through the twelve minutes allotted to attempt each lift. We all got personal bests. We were flying high after it and that workout set the tone for the rest of the day.
After each workout we had about two hours to reset for the next one. In that time, we had to cool down, debrief, eat, and cheer on other members of our team. Workout number two was coming, and we were ready to go!
When we lined up to head out onto the floor, I didn’t have the same bubble of anticipation. In the back of my head I knew that this workout wasn’t going to be my favorite. This workout consisted of three movements: dumbbell squats, box step ups with #20 dumbbells in each hand, and pull-ups. You were attempting to get as many reps as possible in nine minutes. Each movement was worth different amounts of points. Squats were one point, pull-ups were two, and box step ups were three.
Only one person in on our team can do a pull-up, so thankfully it was not required for us to even attempt a pull-up. You could pick and choose what movements you wanted to do and our plan was to get as many box step-ups as we could in those nine minutes and breaking to squats if we had too. None of us touched the rig to attempt a pull-up. By the end of it, our legs were screaming, and we left the floor not feeling great about it. We caught some no-reps and, for me, it just felt sloppy.
But there we were, halfway through.
I felt great about our day so far overall. We had no major issues and everything had mostly gone according to plan. Next up was the workout that had been weighing heavy on me.
For Time, 80 Bench Press at #65 and 160 calories on the rower. Kyrah and Natalie can out bench me any day of the week. So, it was decided early on that the rower (one of my strengths) would be my responsibility. What weighed heavy on me, is that our goal was for me to reach 100 calories before jumping off and letting them finish it out. I would never do a bench press.
I walked on to the floor, the fear of letting the team down creeping in. I mentioned this to them, and they reassured me that, one, I could easily row 100 calories, and two, they wouldn’t mind jumping on early if need be. I smiled and agreed but was determined to not get off that rower until that screen showed 100 calories.
In 3..2…1.. I was off, reminding myself to pace. I had at least five minutes of rowing ahead. After a rocky start of not being familiar with the equipment, I started chipping away at the calories on the screen. I noticed nothing else. I had told myself to listen to the music to keep motivated, I ended up not hearing a word. I vaguely remember seeing my teammates switching back and forth on the bench. Someone would yell out calories every now and then, but really, at that moment, it was me and the rower.
Suddenly the girls were done with the bench press and awaiting their turn on the rower and I was approaching my end goal. My legs were burning, and my gas tank was nearing empty. My muscles were starting to fail and I could feel myself start to slow with just a few calories left. Luckily, I found whatever strength I had left and finished my hundred calories.
It felt like I fell off the rower and stumbled across the line to the waiting area. My quads were on fire as I fell on all fours. Natalie was up on the rower and I wanted desperately to go cheer her on, but even turning my head up made me feel like I was second away from passing out. It took a few minutes, but I finally caught my breath enough to stand and cheer on my team. Standing there, my legs screamed at me wanting relief. Natalie finished her calories and Kyrah jumped on the rower. She had 37 calories left to row. By then the excitement of the workout took over and I was hollering from the sidelines for Kyrah to finish. With a few good pulls, the calories reached zero. We embraced, adrenaline from the workout and racing the clock pumping through our veins.
Three down, one to go.
The last workout was a fast one. We each has forty-five reps to complete. Twenty hang power cleans at #65, fifteen knees to ninety, and ten devils press with #20 in each hand. Our plan was to just get it done as fast as possible. We each took our turn, trying to sprint to the finish line. I left that workout wishing I had done some things different. Things I could control, like building up my grip strength so I could go unbroken on the knees to ninety…and things I couldn’t, like my sports bra slipping during the devils press and having to drop the dumbbells to make a quick fix.
Kyrah finished out the workout, and just like that, our day was over. We had completed four workouts that taxed our bodies. Our muscles exhausted; our skin covered in sweat. We basked in the feeling of accomplishment, which meant something a little different to each of us.
Natalie is coming off a hard year where she had to make some tough choices. Through that she grew to be an amazing athlete and friend. Kyrah was craving the feeling of being on a team and competing again. Me, I surpassed my expectations I set for myself. We all agreed that we had found a family through CrossFit and were happy to spent our day together, getting out of our comfort zones and pushing ourselves to the max.
If this is the feeling of team sports, I absolutely love it. I asked Natalie and Kyrah what stood out to them the most that day. They both said that it was the team aspect that made their day more special. Taking the floor together and supporting each other through the hard moments brought us not just closer as a team, but as friends.
Special thanks to Mission CrossFit San Antonio for putting on an amazing event.
Photographers Gary Menchaca, Quique Lopez, Josh Boynton and Camille Kurtz