Failing Doesn’t Make You A Failure, But…

…quitting makes you a quitter.

So, another blog post related to the Crossfit Games. (Enough already!)

This morning I couldn’t sleep, so read a blog post and responded to it. At length. Before coffee. With typos. Then I went off to do the Crossfit Games 14.2 workout.

Well, not really. I went to Crossfit, was UNABLE to do the 14.2 workout, and did the scaled workout.

One of the main reasons I couldn’t even get 1 in the actual Open workout is that it was Overhead Squats and then Pullups.

Who knows, a fairy might have sprinkled dust to me to get a pullup (unlikely), but the OHS were first – and I can’t squat.

Since it was quite early early when I got up, I curiously Googled this issue. HERE is a great article about it, HERE is a video about Overhead Squats (which presume you can DO a squat).

The blog I responded to railed about people “feeling like failures” for not doing the Open workout, and then rhapsodized about how that’s “not what this is all about.” As I said in my Comment to the post, well, NO, that’s NOT what it’s all about.

If you don’t do the workout, you get a 0. If you get a 0, you are off the Leaderboard. You have failed. But failing doesn’t MAKE YOU A FAILURE.

QUITTING, however, DOES make you a quitter.

As I have said in a previous post, I walk a very, very thin balancing act between the whole “failing/quitting” thing. For the past 20 years, I have balanced extremely well (thank you) – mainly because I don’t get into things that are so far outside my abilities that they are out of sight. Sure, I did an Ironman. But I did know how to swim, to run, and to bike. When I started, I had a bike from the 80s, and couldn’t run 3 blocks. But as I had a year, I actually KNEW that it was POSSIBLE to train up to the Ironman. And I did.

I listened to the “siren song” of a bunch of folks I follow in the Crossfit area online, and signed up for the Open. I’m not quite sure WHAT I was thinking. I have discussed this ad nauseum before.

I really didn’t want to QUIT doing Crossfit WHEN (not if!) I couldn’t progress in the Open. I do know that this is my modus operandi. And so, the day before 14.1, I was REALLY UPSET at myself for signing up.


I wasn’t upset that I would “feel like a failure,” I didn’t “feel like a failure,” I am doing the best I can. But I was upset I would push myself over the edge by failing to get something on the Leaderboard, and then quit/shut down.

The nice part is that, in this area at least, I’ve discovered I’m not a quitter ;-)

Wait, weren’t we talking about squats?

Last night, I was talking to Herbert about the whole “squatting thing” and he made me try to get down into a third world squat. I can NOT do it without toppling over backwards. He found this the funniest thing he’s ever seen (thanks hon!) No, seriously, there he was squatting like an Aborigine and I’m falling backwards like one of those weighted clowns or a Weeble.

I’ve always thought it’s just my ass. I have a HUGE ass. I figured it was weighting me down. In actual fact, now that I’ve watched videos about it, it’s more likely caused by a lifetime’s worth of not only doing all my work in a chair (or lying on a sofa – like now!) but also tucking my “butt in” for umpteen-zillion times after someone’s said “DANG, your butt is so BIG! I mean it is so ROUND” (Yeah, HERE is my theme song, guys). By tilting your butt under, you’ve got a “butt wink” – which disengages your glutes/hamstrings in favor of your quads. This is what you’re doing every time, as my mother CONSTANTLY would say to me, you’re scolded to “tuck your tail in.”

So what happened today at the box? Well Bo (who was coaching) of COURSE knows that I can’t get a squat on. I can’t even bring my thighbone from standing to 45 degrees without going up on tiptoe. So I would be off the Leaderboard for the Open. But HONESTLY, what the HELL was I doing signing up?!? He and I talked it out – I wound up doing the OHS with the 10 pound “swirly bar” and jumping the pull-ups. For some reason he likes jumping pullups better than banded ones – banded ones are harder for me frankly, because they use my arms more, but Ya Do What Bo Says ;-)

I paired up with Heather – finally got her name (she doesn’t look a THING like a Heather). She’s the gal who told Margo she didn’t “want to get bulky, like her” and purposely does half of every workout, won’t do double unders, etc. She wound up actually making it THROUGH the 16 rep round (if you know 14.2, you know what I’m talking about) but with about 15 seconds on the clock she stopped her last pullup at 15, so that she wouldn’t “have to keep going.” She was the only person in the box – Rx or Scaled – to make it out of the 14s and she would have made it through the 16s had she not pulled up. The reason we paired up was that she grabbed the 10 pound (swirly) bar, though I KNOW she could have done the orange bar, because I’ve seen her work out. And she wouldn’t give it up, so I was sort of thinking I was going to have to do the workout with the PVC pipe. But then Bo paired us all up to judge/coach/yell for each other, since we didn’t need a “real” Open judge, since we were not doing the Rx – which meant we shared the bar.

Her form was really amazing. She can squat all the way down – the only thing I had to remind her was to keep looking straight, because every time she’d look down, her arms would shift forward. When she does jumping pullups, she gets a whole kip in, and she can jump herself basically an entire head up and over the bar.

When it came to me, Bo put my heels up on 5kg plates, to try to give me a bit of an edge in the squat. I started with too narrow of a grip, and was having a Hell of a time watching my shoulder, watching my knees, blah blah. By the end of the round of 10s I had quite a wide grip, and realized that the reason Bo always has me do these with the bands is that you need to “pull out” on the bar (as you MUST do on a band) to stabilize yourself. That was interesting.

I still can’t squat more than just bending my knees. One of the things us Scalers got to do was to discuss with our judges what we wanted a “No Rep” to be. In other words, did you really want to be No Repped for not getting your butt below your knee crease? Heather and I both decided that ANY “dip” of the legs as long as the bar was “overhead” was fine by us.

Funniest part was that by the 2nd and 3rd round, I just rested the bar on my head. I obviously had to have a super wide grip to do that and still have my arms straight – which I did. My hands were literally at the very very end of the bar. But there was no way that I could support the bar any other way than resting on the top of my head. Moreover, a couple of times, I went to do a little squat (think like a perfunctory curtsey – no self-respecting person would call these “squats”) and I could feel my bad (right) shoulder starting to roll out of the socket. That’s that WHOA WHOA WHOA feeling – after that I didn’t even try to do the move without having the bar on my head (laugh). Man am I glad no one was videoing ;-)

I did the jumping pullups in various ways – chin ups, one hand forward one hand back (surprisingly easier), regular hands in pullup position. I wound up getting 141reps total  – so all of the first round (10s), all the second round (12s) and then not quite all of the third round (14s – I got part of the last pullups).

I had fun, but I really could absolutely KICK myself for ACTUALLY “signing up for the Open.” The good thing that came out of it? Not sure I would have gone to Crossfit on the Big Island otherwise, which was the BEST experience. I learned a LOT there and also feel pretty sure that without the coaching I got while doing 14.1, I wouldn’t have done as well as I did. I mean, come on, I got 30 double unders and 5 PR cleans – that’s awesome. So from the “every cloud has a silver lining” side of things, that was a HUGE silver lining.

The downside is how ridiculously upset I was before doing 14.1. I HATE being embarrassed, signing up for things through peer pressure, etc.  Also, I feel as if I was “that girl” that I personally hate in the Crossfit arena – the girl who says she “has to be more fit to do this.” I hear this time and TIME again from friends who I KNOW could benefit from doing Crossfit – if they would just start! The thing is, that’s not what this was, at all. So I was upset I had somehow made it sound like that. (Yeah, I was just upset.)

What it was is jumping into the deep end when I basically can’t swim a lap without a noodle. Setting myself up.

I know now that what I want to do is set up some personal sessions with Sera (because I have 2 coming to me) and do the whole “1 rep max” thing. Now I understand that I HAVE to know that, because it’s how WODs are really structured. If it says that a snatch is supposed to be (let’s say) 65 pounds, you can go up to the coach and say “how heavy is that supposed to be?” and s/he will say to you “it should be pretty much your 1 rep max” OR “it should be about 75% of your 1 rep max” or whatever. That makes scaling not just a hit and miss thing. I didn’t “get” that until I actually heard folks doing it in Hawaii. Duh! Not sure how I missed that, but of COURSE it makes sense.

I also haven’t ever really kept track of my times in Hero or Girls WODs, etc. either – because I’m scaling SO mightily. I figure if I get the 1 rep max thing knocked out, then I can scale “appropriately” (if that makes sense), and keep track.

Which is the Virgo/Year of the Ox/Lawyerly thing to do ;-)


2 thoughts on “Failing Doesn’t Make You A Failure, But…

  1. OH SANDY……..

    I have sooooooooo many things I want to say to you..

    Stay positive, lady.. and embrace those PRs that you did get.. and look at the Open as a way for you to become even more determined at the movements that you are struggling with. You haven’t been doing Crossfit for years or these particular movements for years, so really no reason to let it embarrass or upset you! In fact, look at how many MORE people are going to share that score on the leaderboard with you.

    Keep showing up and putting in the work.. and know how many more women are not even lifting a PVC pipe or they are just spending hours doing cardio while you are kicking butt.

  2. Actually I’m not negative at all – I think if I’d used the word “angry at myself” I wouldn’t have gotten that sort of reaction. But instead I was embarrassed, and upset, that I put myself into that position. The gal who wrote on your blog said “well, duh, you could have gone and looked at the workouts, you only have yourself to blame” (basically) – and that’s the deal, I did NOT do that. I actually listened to folks who don’t actually KNOW me (that’s the funny part of the online community, no?) and who said “Oh, of COURSE You can get ONE, it’s fun” and I didn’t even think. That’s why I wrote the blog post – because I’m certainly not the only person out there “like me” and I really wanted to be sure for the “Mes” out there, they don’t follow the siren song without examining it. But I am SO not negative, not “sad,” etc. – I think perhaps I should have used more “fire-y” words (like “I am angry” versus “I am upset”) – but I’m so rarely angry, and that’s not how I felt. I felt very much that it was “stupid” to do – because I did NOT look at the workouts, I did NOT, basically, “think.”

    I also did not realize (being quite new to Crossfit as you said) that you do NOT have to “join the Open” to do the Open workout. Yes, yes, that sounds like a silly thing to “not know,” but I didn’t. I knew that folks in my home gym would be doing it, so I “might as well,” was my feeling – and that voiced by a lot of folks I read or listen to online. BUt really, I LIKED the idea of being on a leaderboard – without actually looking at the past workouts, and instead just going with the “prevailing internet opinion” of folks who haven’t seen me in the flesh that “Hey, you can get 1.”

    But I think it’s SUPER important to have someone – anyone – who writes about making a mistake like this. Not that anyone would ever find or read this blog – but if they DID, I think there should be SOMETHING out there that isn’t in the “rah rah, do it, it’s fun, it’s only $20, it will stretch you” vein. Because thank goodness I am NOT ~so~ new to Crossfit (say, a month in) – because I EASILY could have done this EXACT same thing at that point after getting the same feedback from online community friends – and THEN I really MIGHT have quit.

    ;-) Now I’m off to go be sure some TriBabies are safe in the Bay. I always hate it when they swim in this one cove because I grew up here, and that area has ALWAYS been known as “shark alley.” Now, I’m SURE nothing will happen but when you know a place has a name like that dot do dot ;-)

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