5 Things to Do When You Get Laid Off

Losing your job can be overwhelming. The first two weeks are especially hard, because they come with that feeling of “what am I supposed to do now?” One of the things that surprised me the most about being laid off was that there were suddenly all these little bureaucratic procedures I had to go through.  There were multiple forms to fill out and people to contact to ensure everything was in order before I actually started my job search.

I recommend giving yourself some time to emotionally decompress and process the events of your layoff before taking any rash actions. Once you have given yourself a few days to process things, it’s time to move on and get the ball rolling toward your next adventure. After going through it myself, here are the top 5 “procedural” things I recommend you do as soon as you get laid off:

  1. Start getting your resume together. This will take a little while. Put together a good solid draft, then try to get at least one other person to read it over for you. I had three people look at my resume before I sent out my first job applications, and I’m still having people look it over and suggest changes to it now. Everyone you ask will probably have slightly different advice. You should take it all in and be receptive to suggestions, but remember that you don’t have to make every single correction and change suggested to you.
  2. Apply for Unemployment.If you have a lot in savings you may not need to do this, but if you don’t I suggest filing for unemployment right away. It takes a long time for unemployment benefits to come through, so you don’t want to get in a situation where you really need the money but can’t get it in time. Also, once you do apply, make sure you follow up. One month in, I had heard nothing from the unemployment office so I finally called them. They told me that no one had ever even looked at my application. It had somehow fallen through the cracks and never been processed. It took several more calls and another month before it finally went through last week. unemployment-insurance
  3. Double Check Details on Severance/Vacation Pay and benefits: Make sure you double check your severance pay and/or any vacation time you may be getting paid out against your own records. If you have room to negotiate your severance package, do it. Ask about what happens with any benefits you had. How long will you continue to get health insurance coverage? What happens to your 401k, etc? Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
  4. Contact Your Loan Providers: If you are like me, you have a lot (like, almost 6 figures a lot) of student loan debt. When you get laid off you need to contact the servicer of your loan(s) about adjusting your payments. I personally am on an income based repayment plan, so for me, it was a matter of filling out the required forms to reflect my new unemployed income. If you are NOT on an income based repayment plan, you may be able to request a deferment or forbearance of your loans. If you are really lucky, you don’t have student loans at all and won’t have to worry about this!
  5. Get New Health Insurance: If you had healthcare through your previous employer, you will likely be losing those benefits shortly after you are laid off. I’m not a big fan of the health insurance industry anyway, and according to this CNBC article, unpaid health care bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy filings in the US. Unfortunately, I don’t think having health insurance necessarily insulates you from this possibility, but it does provide a bit of a buffer. For this reason, I would highly recommend you get your own health insurance after you get laid off. I ended up going to the healthcare.gov website and was able to get coverage at a fairly cheap rate. While I was glad to be able to find something I could actually afford, the flip side of that was that the coverage I got is terrible! Even though it’s not very good coverage it does give me peace of mind that if I do have a medical emergency, at least I have some form of coverage and won’t have to pay everything out of pocket.

Once I had the above five things taken care of I started to feel like I was more prepared to begin tackling my job search and start planning out my next steps!

The Mental Battle of Being Unemployed

I’ve started writing this blog post several times over the last month and a half. I would start, stop, delete, start over, stop, and delete again. I feel as if I have so much to say, but I can’t figure out how to put it in one cohesive post. So while this post isn’t the perfect solution it’s better than nothing. This post is not intended as an explanation for my poor performance in the CrossFit Open this year, or intending to blame anyone for anything. It is merely my life experience over the last 2 months.

I was laid off from my position as Counsel at CrossFit, Inc. at the end of January 2016. It was not expected and took me by surprise. I had never really imagined myself in any life scenario where I was laid off. I guess this is probably because I believe in some sort of low-grade modified just-world fallacy and think that “if I work hard and do the right things then good things will happen to me.” Since, I always worked hard and tried to do the right things I guess I felt insulated somehow. I believed that if I was doing high quality work then my job was safe, because I was doing a good job. That’s not actually how the world works, though.

It really wouldn’t have mattered if my work, or my effort, or my output had been 10x or 100x better. At the end of the day I still would have ended up in the same position I am now. For instance, suppose a company needs to cut jobs for financial reasons or maybe they eliminate positions because they aren’t going to offer a particular product or service anymore. In those cases, it doesn’t really matter how good you were at your job, does it? If you are in the department they need to make cuts to, you may still lose your job regardless of how good you were at it.

Initially, that was one of the hardest things to accept about being laid off. I like to be able to figure things out and to see the logic in things, and I couldn’t figure it out in this situation. I would sit there and try to come up with the reasons A,B, and C were laid off but X, Y, Z still had jobs. In the end though, if you try to stress over it for too long you’ll drive yourself crazy. A private company is entitled to make whatever decisions it thinks are best for the company, whether you agree with them, or even understand them, or not. You can’t fault them for that.

Honestly, though, not all of my initial feelings about being laid off were negative. Don’t get me wrong there were plenty of things I was upset about, as well as sad and worried about. I was upset that it happened in a crowded airport where I could barely hear the HR lady on the phone. I was upset it happened on a day where I was using my paid time off and technically not working anyway. I was sad that certain people that I had looked up to never reached out to me about the situation. I was most worried about money and being able to pay our mortgage. I was worried that the awesome outside counsel and some of the ladies from the affiliate support team that I worked with would think I just stopped responding to their emails and wonder why I was being rude. I worried that once people found out that I lost my job that they would think it was because I wasn’t good at it, even though I was told this was not the case.

Yet there was something kind of exciting and liberating about being laid off…at least at first. I could suddenly do anything I wanted. I didn’t have to be a lawyer anymore if I didn’t want to. I’ve always wanted to write a book. Maybe I could do that. I’d been working on trying to get my real estate license since the summer. Maybe now I’ll actually have time to finish the course. I could start my own company and work for myself. That would be awesome!

It seemed like there were so many options those first few weeks. Plus, I was planning to apply for “regular” lawyer jobs as well. Now, I’m not sure whether it was an over-inflated ego or the advice other people were feeding me those first few weeks, but I was sure I would have my pick of those jobs. I mean I was valedictorian of my high school, I had a 4.0 all through college plus had a full scholarship for gymnastics, I graduated from one of the top 10 law schools in the country, and I got a job in-house at what I thought was a well regarded company right after law school. In my mind, everyone was going to look at that and want to offer me a job. I even told Brenton before the Open started “I think I might not apply for too many jobs during the Open, because I don’t want to be bombarded with interviews during those 5 weeks.”

Fast forward to today and approximately 50 job applications later. I have only received two interviews. One I haven’t heard back from yet, and the other I have already received a rejection from. Needless to say my confidence in finding a job anytime soon is entirely gone, and my outlook on my job search and the qualifications I thought would be so well regarded has changed dramatically. Maybe I just had a very naive outlook about what job hunting in this economy is like, or maybe I’m doing something incredibly wrong in my search, but either way it has been quite the emotional journey.

I tried not to stress about it as much during the Open, because yes, even though I was laid off from my job I still love training and I still wanted to compete in the Open. To me, my job at CrossFit, Inc. and training and competing in fitness competitions were two different things. To me, the end of one of those things does not mean the end of the other.

However, as the weeks wore on and my job search seemed to grow more and more futile and my performance in the open continued to be subpar the stress and emotions kept piling up. I started to get into this mental funk I couldn’t seem to pull myself out of. I didn’t want to do anything but sit on the couch. I would go train, get frustrated, and leave miserable, (something that very rarely happens to me on normal training days). That book I wanted to write hasn’t gotten past page 9, and I haven’t even opened the file in a month. I went to the healthcare.gov website to try to get health insurance, only to realize after I selected one that it is with the worst health insurance company I’ve ever had to deal with. It has already caused me so many headaches, and I haven’t even had it a month. I still haven’t been able to figure out why my unemployment hasn’t been paid (and the unemployment office hasn’t figured it out either).

These are all little things that, by themselves, are minor annoyances. However, with no job to work at and take pride in, and with a huge part of my self-identity as an athlete taking a hit as I continued to have poor workouts and poor training sessions, I started to slowly feel like I had nothing in my life to work at and be proud of. Now, I have to say I have a wonderfully supportive family, an amazing boyfriend who has been more than a saint helping me through every day, and a great group of friends, so in reality I very well know that I have a lot to be thankful for in my life. I also realize that there are wayyyyy worse things that can happen to you in life than just losing a job or underperforming on a workout. However, when you feel like you are suddenly falling short in your major life endeavors, it does start to take a mental toll.

I wish I could end this entry on a happy note and say, “but in the end everything worked out and I found the dream job and then went on to win the CrossFit Games,” but that is not how this story is going to end this year. I do believe deep down that in the long run everything is going to be better than it was. I’m going to keep training hard in the gym, that’s not going to change. I’ll keep up the job search and maybe something will come along (if you want to see a resume let me know 😉 ). I’m actually very serious about wanting to start a non-profit for something that I’m really passionate about, so I’m working on figuring out how I can logistically make that work. I also want to continue to write blog posts about my journey in the world of the unemployed. There are soooo many things that you need to do as soon as you get laid off that I had no idea about. It was quite overwhelming trying to figure it out. Luckily, I had some awesome  friends and former co-workers to team up with and we were able to help each other through and try to figure everything out. Yet, I want to be able to provide a resource for other people who might find themselves in a similar position. Next week I will be blogging about the top 5 things (it might end up being more than 5, we’ll see) that you need to do as soon as you get laid off.

So for now, I will keep trying to send positivity out into the world in hopes that the world will send me some back!

If anyone has questions about anything specific, whether you just lost your job and don’t know where to start, or just have questions about my life and my journey I am more than happy to answer any of them. You can email me directly at gretchen.kittelberger@gmail.com.


2014 Reebok CrossFit Games Perspective

It’s hard to believe that another CrossFit Games season has come and gone. The longer I’ve been competing the longer it seems to take me to process my thoughts and emotions after a big event. Every year not only does the level of competition at the Games rise, but I also gain a better understanding and appreciation for how much the organizers, staff, volunteers, and even fans at the CrossFit Games have stepped up their game as well. Such a large scale event would never even be possible without the hard work of the countless volunteers, staff members, and judges who give up their time to allow us athletes to compete, and every athlete on that competition floor is grateful for it. The fans this year were more involved than ever. This was the first time I was acutely aware of things like people cheering my name during the run on the Triple 3s, or the roar of the crowd encouraging me to try to make my last clean during the Sprint Clean Ladder. That in and of itself was an awesome thing to experience, and I truly appreciate every single person who was out there rooting for me. 

During the Triple 3's. Photo Courtesy of Hannah Hayworth Photography.

During the Triple 3’s. Photo Courtesy of Hannah Hayworth Photography.


Each of my 4 Games appearances have been unique in its own way. I’ve entered each one as a different athlete with different goals and expectations. Looking back to my 2013 Games experience, I recognized that I didn’t have as much fun or felt like I appreciated the opportunity to be out on that floor competing as much as in 2011 and 2012. I let my perception of the quality of the workouts as a “good” test of fitness affect my attitude towards the workout and also affect my performance. I remember thinking things like “This is stupid why are we rowing again?” or “Another event has a lot of running, but we already did that. I don’t want to do more” as the weekend wore on. I created this perception that the workouts were unfair as a scapegoat for the fact that I was performing poorly on them relative to the other competitors. As you might expect, that negatively affected not only my performance, but also my overall enjoyment of my 2013 Games experience. 

When I qualified for the 2014 Games I made myself a promise that I would not let what happened in 2013 happen again. The middle of a competition is not the time to evaluate whether you “like” a workout or not, or whether you personally think it’s a “good” or “bad” test of fitness. The middle of a competition is a time to put your head down and do the work. If you are going to agree to play the game then you have to also be willing to accept the nature of the game. In the case of the CrossFit Games, that means accepting that not every workout is going to be in your wheelhouse, you will probably have to do things you don’t really want to do or enjoy doing, and that until the competition is completely over you don’t have a full picture of what is being tested so it’s impossible to judge the weekend’s events as you go. Plus, just because a workout might not be a good workout for you personally, doesn’t mean it’s a bad test of fitness. Sometimes ego makes this a hard thing to admit to ourselves.

So going into the 2014 Games I promised myself that I would not respond negatively to the announcement of any workout and that I would not place any sort of value judgment on the nature of a workout. I would just do the work to the best of my ability, and I would make an effort to also absorb and enjoy the awesome experience and opportunity that is competing at the CrossFit Games while staying in a positive frame of mind the entire time.

And I have to admit I did a pretty good job on those goals, but I had two moments of weakness during the weekend where I started getting very down on myself. The first came in the tunnel waiting to march out for the OHS workout on Wednesday night. All I could think about as we waited to walk out was the clean and jerk ladder in 2013 and how I had failed to match my PR on that event; the first time I had ever underperformed on a strength event in competition. I tried desperately to shake those negative thoughts in my head but just couldn’t seem to do it. Yet when I walked out onto that floor Wednesday night, loaded my bar and hit my first OHS something clicked. Suddenly, it was fun again. The format of the OHS ladder was really neat and just being back in that tennis stadium competing was electrifying. I went on to PR my OHS by 7# and left with an entirely different attitude. 


Overhead Squatting in the Tennis Stadium, my favorite venue to compete in!

My second moment of mental struggle came after the HSPU-sled pull workout. I was upset over the workout for multiple reasons, but mostly because I thought my handstand push ups should have been faster than they were compared to other people. I felt I went as fast as I could, but I allowed my perception of where I thought I should be compared to others to bring me down. I had a hard time shaking my disappointment after this workout, and come Sunday morning I was still upset. I was at the hotel packing up the car to head to the arena for the final day of competition when a little girl and her dad came up to me. “Gretchen, I know you are really busy but can she take a picture with you?” her dad said to me. “The only reason we went to breakfast at the hotel today was because we were hoping you would be there.” This just melted my heart and of course we took a picture. I think they thought I was doing them a favor, but really it was the other way around. Having that family come up to me was the thing that helped push me out of my funk, feel positive again, and focus on the last day of competition. At the end of the day it isn’t about the numbers on the scoreboard, it’s about trying your hardest, appreciating the opportunities you have, cherishing the people you meet along the journey, and hopefully being a role model for the next generation.

Do I wish my name was higher up on that scoreboard? Sure. But I competed to the best of my ability, and I can look back on my 2014 Games experience and say I had an incredible time filled with more highs than there were lows. 

I owe a huge thank you to all the people who support me not just on gameday, but day in and day out throughout the year. So a special shout out to all my sponsors and supporters: Reebok, Fuel for Fire, CustomFit Meals, Goat Tape, AtLarge Nutrition, and Normatec Recovery for providing me with the clothing, gear, food, and recovery tools I need throughout the season. I was very fortunate to have my coach Jeremy Gordon of CrossFit Hampton Roads with me at the Games, as well as my endurance coach Chris Hinshaw, and my weightlifting coach, Cara Heads Slaughter! Getting to the CrossFit Games as an individual is not an individual effort, and I am lucky that I have such a fantastic group of coaches guiding and shaping me as an athlete. And of course my family, friends, coaches, and everyone at CrossFit Reston who give me endless support and encouragement on my journey! Thank you all!!!

Onward and upward to 2015!!

2014 Mid-Atlantic Regionals

During our first athlete briefing the night before the first day of the 2014 Mid-Atlantic Regionals, Chuck Carswell told us there were three goals for the weekends competition: to run a tight competition, to foster community, and to tell a great story. I think everyone present at the event this weekend can agree that those three goals were accomplished.

The level of competition at this regional was arguably the highest I have ever seen it in the Mid-Atlantic. Some of you ladies I only get to see once a year at regionals, and every year I am in awe at how fast and how much you have improved over the course of the year. I love competing with each and every one of you and feel incredibly honored to be able to represent our region at the 2014 CrossFit Games. I am even more excited to get to share another trip to the Games with my close friend and training partner, Christy Adkins, who inspires me to work harder and push more every single day. I am so incredibly proud of her for her performance this weekend and am lucky to call her my friend. Anna, welcome to the region, and I look forward to competing with you in Carson.

The competition this weekend was not only tight between the competitors, but there was no slop in the timing, execution, or organization of the event either. A huge “Thank You” goes out to Chriss, Andrea, Mehdi, Chuck, Jason, Eric, and every single judge, volunteer, and support staff member who were present and working hard this weekend. You guys all made this a wonderful experience for the competitors, and we are so grateful for the time and energy you put in to making this a great event.

What really blew me away this weekend was the sense of community I felt every single day. I spend a great portion of my work hours dealing with people who are trying to steal and rip off the CrossFit brand name. A large percentage of the time these infringers are mean, disrespectful, or just plain rude. When you spend so much time dealing with these types of people you are sometimes left wondering where have all the good, honest people in the world gone. Well, I found them this weekend at the Mid-Atlantic Regional and was reminded not only why I work so hard every day to try to protect our community’s name, but also why I fell in love with that community to begin with. I don’t think there was a single person I passed in the hallway all weekend who didn’t at least shout out a quick “good luck” or “great job” even if they had no idea who I was.

To the CrossFit Reston crew, thank you all so much for coming out to support us this weekend. I was beyond thrilled to see so many Reston shirts in the stands and get so many messages and posts from you all. You have no idea how much your support means to me! I am undoubtedly part of the best box in the world. #littlebrotherbrad I am so incredibly proud of all the work you have put in over the past year (even if it means I can’t beat you on WODs anymore), and you deserved every bit of success you had this weekend. Kim, there’s no other way to say it but you are bad ass, and you more than held your own against all us young’ins this weekend. I can’t wait to see you take that top podium spot at the Games this year. Thank you to Jeff and Maggie for being so supportive of me and my goals since day one and for creating such an amazing community of people that I am so blessed to be a part of.

Obviously, a huge thank you to my coach, Jeremy Gordon. Without your unwavering help and support, I would not be where I am today, nor would I have accomplished all that I have. So many athletes struggle to find a coach-athlete dynamic that works for them, but I am VERY lucky to have a coach that I trust completely and a training plan I believe in. I have continued to improve year after year under your guidance, and I am very much looking forward to our 4th trip to the CrossFit Games!

And a special shout out to Chris Hinshaw and Cara Heads for all their help throughout this season. Chris has helped me make huge strides with my running and endurance work this year. While Cara has made me a stronger and more technically proficient olympic lifter.

Of course, thank you to my amazing family for always supporting my dreams ever since I was a child. And a special thank you to my mom for skipping the first day of Alex’s graduation from Cornell in order to make the trip down to watch me on Friday and Saturday (Congrats Alex!). And a very special thank you to my boyfriend, Brenton, who puts up with me and supports me not only on my good days, but also on my worst days. You are amazing, and I love you with all my heart.

Lastly, a big “Thank You” to all my sponsors who keep me fed, fueled, clothed, and able to continue to do what I love on a daily basis. Reebok, CustomFit Meals, Fuel For Fire, Airrosti, Normatec Recovery, GoatTape, AtLarge Nutrition: you guys are all awesome, and I truly appreciate the support!

I am still a little bit in disbelief that this weekend ended as wonderfully as it did, but I feel incredibly blessed to be heading back to California for the 2014 CrossFit Games! See you in Carson!



Getting caught up

I like to blog about topics I feel passionate about or things that I think are important, timely or interesting, but I also feel that I should occasionally write about what is actually going on in my life. Even if no one else finds it interesting I know my technology savvy grandparents like to read about what I’m doing 😉  However, it seems like my updates are becoming few and far between these days! I intended to write a blog post recapping my experience at the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games shortly after the Games were over. Well, it’s nearly October now, and I still haven’t done it. It seems a bit silly to go back now and rehash something in extreme detail that happened so long ago, so instead I’ll just quickly recap what has happened since the Games.

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling since the Games ended, but things have finally settled down. I’ve finally been able to get into more of a daily routine. The day after the Games ended my boyfriend and I flew to Lake Tahoe and spent about a week there just relaxing and unwinding. I’m far from an “outdoorsy” person, but it was an amazing vacation and highly recommend a visit for anyone who has never been. We even went parasailing, which was admittedly very cool, but I also found to be very scary

gretchen parasailing

This is my excited parasailing face

Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe

Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe

After getting back from Tahoe, we were home for about a week before leaving for Big Sky, Montana and the CrossFit affiliate gathering. Having never been to that area of the country before I had no idea what to expect, but it too was very beautiful. We spent a day at Yellowstone National Park, where we drove approximately 1/10th of the way through the park. It’s huge!! It really is a vacation in itself, but we got to see Old Faithful go off which was really what we wanted to see. Plus we got to see some wildlife so it was a good trip. Back at Big Sky Resort we were able to do cool things like zip-lining and the high ropes course and of course attempting to workout at altitude.

IT might look pretty, but this water is very very hot!

It might look pretty, but this water is very very hot!

Old Faithful

Old Faithful

Once we got back from Montana it was time to visit family and friends. We spent 4 days with Brenton’s family in West Virginia, then headed off to upstate NY to see my family and go to my cousin’s wedding. Then it was back to UVa and the Charlottesville area for another wedding. We finished up our wedding season with Christy Phillip’s  (now Adkins) wedding right here in DC.

Even though I’ve been traveling around quite a bit, I’ve still been keeping up with my training. After the Games ended I took sometime to evaluate where I thought I did well and where I thought I needed improvement. After discussing it with my coach, we decided to add a couple of new elements to my training this year. Running has also been a huge weakness of mine, and that definitely hurt me at the Games this year. In order to really target this weakness, I started working with Chris Hinshaw who is an awesome endurance coach out of NorCal. I’ve been doing running workouts that he has programmed for me twice a week for about the past 2 and a half months, and I am already starting to see a huge improvement! I’ve never enjoyed running and in fact usually dread running days/workouts/any wod with running, but Chris programs in a very manageable way so that I am not dreading every run workout I do. It’s great programming that challenges me without overwhelming me, and I’m very excited to see where my running and endurance will be 6 months to a year from now!

I’ve also started putting more of an emphasis on Oly technique work. I’ve been meeting once a week with Cara Heads of CH Fitness and Performance to fix and refine my Oly lifts. I’m even competing in my first weightlifting competition this Saturday! Cara is super positive and energetic, and I love working with her. Plus every time I work with her my lifts magically seem to get better! Funny how that works. 🙂

Now that the fall is here it is time to do a pre-season competition or two. I always enjoying competing in local events, because it is a chance to see friends and the competitions usually have some very creative elements in them. So far this year I have competed at Beast of the East in Connecticut and Fall Brawl in Pennsylvania. Both were great events that I plan on returning to next year. Still left on the agenda, I plan on attending the Iron Clash in North Carolina, the Cold War 3 here in Virginia, and the OC Throwdown out in California.

Life sure has seemed busy the past few months, but it is definitely all very exciting and fun. I can’t wait to see what adventures the next few months bring!

2013 Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Regionals Brief Recap

After sitting through 3 other weeks of regional competition and watching scores pop up on the leaderboard, this past weekend was finally our turn! Having been the second regional to go the past two years, being the last weekend was a new experience. When I initially found out we were the final weekend it made me quite nervous. Knowing the workouts almost a month advance could potentially give an athlete who might not otherwise be competitive time to perfect a known weakness, turning that person into a legit contender, and suddenly the race for the Games becomes tighter.

On the other hand, however, knowing the workouts and having time to practice them was much more similar to my days of competing in gymnastics, and the preparation for Regionals this year felt very similar to that style of training. In gymnastics you more or less compete the same routines all season long, so you practice them over and over trying to make them perfect. That is what the weeks leading up to Regionals felt like. I did a full run through of Regionals first, doing all the wods in order exactly the way they would be performed in competition. This allowed me to not only get baseline times, but also to know roughly how my body would feel going into each wod. After that I went back and started working pieces of the wods and different variations of them, hitting each wod in its entirety one more time before the competition. I PR’d each wod the second time around in practice, with the exception of the burpee muscle-ups where I got the exact same score.

Going into regionals, one of my goals was to PR everything again. However, I only ended up hitting PR’s on 4 of the 7 workouts this weekend. Luckily, they were the ones I needed to PR most on. The other thing about being the final regional is you know roughly where your times need to be in order to have a shot at finishing top 3. Looking at the scores in other regions, I estimated that I needed at minimum to match all my top times from practice as well as get a 10-15 second PR on Jackie and a 10-15 rep PR on the 100s wod in order to have a shot at the Games. What I ended up with was a :12 second Pr on Jackie, a 1 rep improvement on my OHS, a 10 rep PR on the 100s, and a :26 second PR on the Deadlift/Box Jump Wod. I was one burpee muscle up below what I had done in practice, about :30 seconds slower than my best time in event 6, and about :30 seconds slower than my best in event 7 as well. Of course, you are always going to look back at things and say “oh I messed this up,” or “I should have rested less here,” but overall I am extremely happy with how this weekend went. I also am incredibly honored to be heading back to California and represent the Mid-Atlantic with Christy Phillips and Michelle Crawford.

So excited to go to the Games with these two awesome athletes and great people!!

So excited to go to the Games with these two awesome athletes and great people!!

Thank you again to everyone who helped make the Mid Atlantic Regional a great experience! Chriss and Andrea Smith,  Rob Gaines, Rob Miller, Mehdi, and Chuck Carswell– you guys ran a tight ship and great competition! Thanks to all the judges and volunteers for giving up their time to help out. And of course thank you to everyone who has supported and encouraged me not only this weekend but all year long. It means the world to me! It was so great to be able to have my mom and little brother there to watch me. And even though she picked to go watch Daniel Tosh’s show instead of coming to Regionals, my sister did a good job of providing support via text as well.

To my CrossFit Reston family, especially Maggie and Jeff Tincher, thank you guys for welcoming me a year and a half ago with open arms and becoming some of my best friends! We had the greatest cheering section this weekend and everyone looked awesome in their Superhero shirts!! Our team fought so hard this weekend and should be incredibly proud of themselves! Our box is awesome!!  And of course a HUGE thank you to my coach, Jeremy Gordon. It was a huge help having you there all weekend to keep me focused and sane!

And thank you to the best legal team in the world! Who not only understand and allow me the flexibility in my schedule to continue to train, but also support me like no other. Thanks for sending me tons of good luck texts and messages this weekend, and I was so happy to have Dale, Steve, and Natascha make the trip all the way across the country to come watch me. And of course I have to give a shout out to Brenton for being there not only this weekend, but by my side day in and day out, on my good days and bad, and loving me for who I am, even though I know he thinks I’m reckless and messy 🙂

Finally thank you to all of my sponsors, Reebok, Custom Fit Meals, and AtLarge Nutrition for keeping me clothed and fed and healthy and able to keep doing what I love!

See you in July!

The Open Aftermath

Around week 2 of the Open I started to think about what I wanted to write in my obligatory “end of the Open” blog post. To be honest, I still haven’t totally decided, but I’m just going to start writing and see what comes out.

I have a lot of opinions about the Open; some of them shared by others, but a lot of them I would venture to say would be highly unpopular in the CrossFit community. As a coach, I find the Open inspiring, and I love watching the members of our gym push themselves and each other during the Open workouts each week. As an athlete, however, I find the Open highly frustrating and to some degree highly confusing. I think this is partly because the online, all-inclusive, repeat-efforts-are-acceptable format of the Open goes against everything I have learned about sports and competition since I was six years old. And let’s face it, when you’ve been taught since you were a little kid that a “competition” means showing up in person ,face-to-face with your competitors, in an unfamiliar gym with unfamiliar equipment, and having one shot to give your best performance, it’s hard to break that mind set and accept some other definition.

Over the course of the Open, I have also managed to develop an argument that the structure of the Open is a vehicle for furthering the growing American societal trend of not allowing our children/adults to fail at their endeavors. And while I think my argument is well thought out and Will Ferrell in the debate scene in “Old School” worthy, my boyfriend would probably tell you when I get going on this rant it sounds more like Billy Madison in the Academic Decathlon (see below).

So with that in mind, I think I’ll skip expounding on this theory and move on to less theoretical topics.

I briefly considered writing a post about what changes I would like to see to the Open format in order to avoid some of the issues we have seen this year and in years past. However, I’m not a big fan of haphazardly spewing your complaints and problems on the interwebz. If I really believe I have valid ideas for improving the Open and the CrossFit Games qualifying structure, a blog,(or facebook or twitter) is hardly the place to suggest them. Rather, those should be presented to the people in CrossFit who could actually implement them. Internet rants get nothing done, but a well thought out idea presented maturely might. I’m not saying I actually have a fantastic solution just yet to work out all the little bugs in the Open, but maybe someday I’ll figure it out…

So what does that leave me with to write about to recap the Open? I could go through all my performances one-by-one and how I felt about each, but that’s kind of boring. Instead, I’d rather talk about creating confidence from the Open. I think one of the more frustrating aspects of the Open is not being able to see your competition perform, but instead just see numbers pop up online, especially when those numbers best your effort. It’s easy to get sucked into a negative mindset or get down on yourself with thoughts of “you’re not good enough”, “all these people are better than me”, “you’re not improving fast enough” trying to creep into your head. This happened to me last year. However, this year it didn’t seem to affect me as much, and I am actually leaving the Open feeling good about where I am in my training, and I have a positive mindset heading into Regionals. I think there are a few reasons for that.

First off, it helped to be armed with the knowledge that final standings in the Open were not very reflective of final Regional standings. I went back and looked at the 2012 stats, and only 19 of the 45 women who qualified to the 2012 Games finished top 3 in their region in the Open. Of the top 10 finishers in the WORLD in the Open only 5 made the Games (although one went team and one did not compete at Regionals). Extend that to the top 20 in the world and the numbers hold– only 10 of the top 20 Open finishers in the world qualified for the Games. At the end of the day, getting to the Games is what counts so I’m (slowly) learning to stop stressing out about where I am ranked in the Open.

Second, I heard TONS of stories this year about people redoing workouts 3 or 4 times and having huge jumps in scores. Having a strategy of “one and done” for the Open workouts served a couple purposes for me this year. One, it allowed me to practice for actual competition. In a real competition you only get one shot to perform at your absolute best. At the Games you don’t get to practice all the workouts before hand, so you better know how to deliver when it counts. In college, we had practices every week during the competition season which were designated “team event” days. We would go through our entire line-up and each girl got one shot to stick her routine. The coaches would use those in practice performances to figure out who to put in line-up for that weekend’s competition. It didn’t matter if you did 10 perfect routines after going through line-up, if you couldn’t hit your routine during the team event, the coaches weren’t going to put you in the line-up. If you can’t hit when it counts, then you won’t be very successful as an athlete. That’s one of the reasons we see such a variance in performance in some athletes between the Open and Regionals. The Open allows them to pick their best performance, whereas Regionals forces them to perform under pressure.

Taking a “one and done” approach to the Open also gave me a realistic sense of where I am in the region. Had I performed each wod multiple times and gotten better scores each time, yeah, I probably would have placed higher, but either one of two things would have happened. Either I would have had a false sense of confidence and gotten lazy heading into Regionals, or the more likely scenario for me– I would have started trying to figure out where I would be ranked had I only performed the wods once and used those scores and then got down on myself because I couldn’t perform well enough on the first try. It would have been a downward spiral.

Instead, I made it through the Open feeling generally happy with my performances and ready to work hard to tackle Regionals full force. This year more than ever I really believe in my training plan and feel like I am seeing progress and improvement in a lot of areas.

And that’s all I have to say about that.