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      My 2017 Crossfit Games Experience - Written by Mekenzie Riley

      My 2017 Crossfit Games Experience - Written by Mekenzie Riley

      My 2017 Crossfit Games Experience
      Written by: Mekenzie Riley – 23rd @ The 2017 Reebok Crossfit Games
      Follow Mekenzie on Instagram: @itskenzieriley
      Photo Credit:  @misfitmedianman (Ted Bonenfant)

      Making it to the CrossFit Games was my one sole goal for the 2017 season. There was no real thought, expectation, or question beyond that ONE focus for the last 12 months of my life. It's amazing to self-actualize a once in a lifetime dream like that; it's IMPOSSIBLE to be anything but elated and overwhelmed with joy upon realizing "I actually fu*king did it!"


      My Mindset Going In


      My rookie debut was a mix of about every emotion you can think of, however, I recall mainly positive feelings to describe my experience. As much as I believe I belong amongst the fittest on Earth, I also knew I had a lot to learn and didn't expect to steal the show in my first run at it. I entered the weekend with a few intrinsic goals and an open mind as a blank mental note pad.


      Just like with any other competition; I expected to have highs & lows, I expected to have my strengths shine through & my weaknesses exposed, and never once did I throw out the possibility of being faced with that real-time-on-the-floor-decision of losing my shit or keeping my cool, adapting, and overcoming.  In hindsight, over the 4-day contest, I am pleased to report out that despite being greatly challenged, I remained mostly consistent in my performance and mindset.  This consistency proved to be reflected on the event leaderboard.  So no, I didn’t lost my shi*t, lol.


      2017 Crossfit Games Best Advice


      I was once told this season by one of the wise coaches on the Misfit Staff to control the 2 things I could: my attitude and my effort. I tried to keep this close in mind and heart through the weekend and I think it paid off. However, I have come to realize that by nature I tend to remain grateful and hopeful in attitude and try and be conservative and smart in my effort. None of that is bad, it's just very cavalier. With no experience at this level of competition, it's hard be more aggressive than that. I think building on my confidence to take more chances and approach events with an "I can't fail!" attitude could boost me up to a new level.


      Lessons Learned Going into the 2018 Season


      What I learned most from this experience that I'm taking forward into the 2018 Crossfit season has more to do with mentality than any physical skill or capacity. There is a certain confidence it takes to GET to the Games; all CrossFit Games athlete have that. But it takes another level of that confidence to HANG at the Games, better yet WIN the Games. I think experience breeds that confidence, but it also comes from understanding yourself as an athlete, believing in yourself under all circumstances, and trusting your ability/plan to execute. 


      Continuing to learn from myself every day in training, continuing to become more comfortable with my skill sets despite being a strength or a weakness, and understanding my capacities and making them work for ME...this is where I am.


      Closing out the 2017 Crossfit Games Season


      It's hard to not just feel completely grateful and honored to just earn a numbered jersey with my name on it, to get to stand alongside the fittest women on Earth as we walk down the competition floor, or to know some of the Fittest people on Earth who are also some of kindest and funniest as well, AND I get to call them my friends!


      This to me is enough...or WAS enough. Those might be my favorite elements of the Games experience, but I'm in it for more now. Now, I know what I'm capable of and am demanding more of myself. I know what it's like to make it, to be out there, and to do what I love in front of the whole community of people who support it. I'm doing all I can to get back out there and prove to myself that Kenzie Riley wasn't a fluke, but rather has what it takes to one up herself in 2018!!!

       

      My Crossfit Games 2017 Experience - Written by Tommy Vinas

      My Crossfit Games 2017 Experience - Written by Tommy Vinas

      My Crossfit Games 2017 Experience
      Written By: Tommy Vinas, American Gainz Athlete


      Leading up to the Games
      Well, the intense and amazing feeling of “I made the Games” was short lived after the South Regional. As the Games approached, the nervousness kicked in to the point where just thinking about it made me sick to my stomach.  


      I was early to recognize that this year would be a “learning year” if I did indeed make it beyond the Regional. After all, this was the goal at the start of the 2017 season.  Although my goal was reached, I had just made it to the Games, so in no way was just showing up going to be good enough.  It was then when the doubts set in and I started challenging my training with defeating questions like, “did I do enough? Am I really a Games level athlete? Am I ready?”.  So yes, making the Games is incredible and now I know being incredibly nervous is a part of it.   


      Day 1
      The first day was one of my rougher days of competition strictly due to event selection. Being a 200lb guy has its advantages, but aerobic based events at the Games level is not one of them.  I honestly finished Day 1 being disappointed.  After beating myself up for a bit I decided to pull my head out of my ass and attack Day 2! 


      Day 2
      Looking forward to some heavier barbell work was a refreshing change of gears from Day 1.  I learned on this day that confidence goes a long way in terms of performance.  I couldn’t think of a better way to walk away from Day 2 than with a new 1RM Snatch PR (302lbs).


      Day 3
      I went into Day 3 with the mindset of “have fun, but execute”.  This was the part of the competition where I truly started to see myself perform.


      Day 4
      Now that the butterflies were gone and the nerves settled, Day 4’s events were truly just me and my lane.

       

      Highlight – 1RM Snatch Event
      By far, the most exciting moment in my athletic career was hitting that 302 lb. snatch PR in that arena where the energy from the stands was so visceral and so alive, it was feeding my lifts. 

      Lowlight - Amanda.45
      On paper, this is an event where I can crush souls.  During execution however, I let nerves get the best of me and was thrown off at the pace set by other athletes.  This was rookie mistake. I need to run my own race and stay head strong.

       

      After competing alongside so many Athletes this year, my one take away was how utterly hard these athletes work to be at this level of competition.  It made me think that anything is possible. I simply need to work harder than everyone else - which of course, is easier said than done!

       

      Training Adjustments for 2018

      • Spend more time on recovery.  I’m sure there are plenty of Athletes with full-time jobs (hats off to them as this year was not easy!), but looking forward, I’m focusing more on recovering and cutting back hours of work where possible. 
      • Increase Aerobic Capacity – Longer Everything (running, swimming, biking, etc.)
      • I’m remodeling the Pain Cave because I’ve decided to stay there awhile. One of the biggest faults this year was getting too comfortable with my training crew.  On the floor, it became apparent to me that I mentally shit the bed when noticing that to the left, and to the right of me, were athletes that were as good if not better than me. This was a simple unexpected mental preparation gap, consider it filled.   
         


      Final Thoughts
      Overall, through this humbling experience, I’ve learned that the athletes with the strongest mental games are also the athletes winning events. This single lesson acquired from this year’s Games alone will no doubt make me a much better athlete when training for the 2018 season.  Can't wait to do it again!!!

      Madison: A No-Podium Victory!!! - Written by Janet Black

      Madison: A No-Podium Victory!!! - Written by Janet Black

      

       

      Madison: A No-Podium Victory!!!
      Written by: Janet Black

      Closing out the 2017 Crossfit Season in Madison marked a memorable milestone for me as an athlete. This was the 5th year I’ve competed at the Reebok Crossfit Games and I’ll admit, the commitment required to make it to this level of the competition has become more mentally challenging for me than ever before.   


      Entering the 2017 Crossfit Games Season I was constantly challenging my drive with self-defeating questions; Back to Carson again Janet?  Am I ready to commit to the preparation required for another season?  If I can’t podium, what is the point? 


      As a full-time teacher, mom, and wife, the time required to commit to my fitness goals doesn’t come without sacrifice, it’s mostly the time that I can carve out of being efficient with other non-discretionary activities.  But really, “what’s the point?”, the point was to compete among the fittest athletes in the world.  The point was to test my abilities through the sport of fitness.  I had to remind myself that I’ve done it before, I’ve podiumed twice already!!!


       Around the same stretch of time that I was battling negative thoughts around my drive, the announcement was made that Madison was the new venue to take on the Games.  Immediately I texted my sister because she lives in Illinois, and Wisconsin is so close.  She confirmed that she lives only two hours from Madison and it was at this point when the willingness to commit became much easier.  At last, a perfect opportunity for my sister to come watch me compete in person, now all I have to do, is make it to the final event, lol. 


      As I continued to settle in the direction of commitment to the 2017 season I was reminded of how much fun CrossFit is, how much I love the community that comes with it, and how much CrossFit allows me to challenge my limits and is ultimately the reason why I started this journey in the first place.  My summer of training began and I truly enjoyed every bit of it.  I felt ready both physically & mentally!


      The 2017 Games came and went, I finished 6th (tied for 5th in terms of points).  Of course I would have loved to finish on the podium but I walked away this year with so much more.  Let me first tell you that I am not a strong swimmer, I have a fear of heights so ropes don’t excite me, and in 2014 my max handstand walk was a sloppy ten feet.  If you are aware of this year’s workouts, it’s almost as if the workout selection objective was to expose my weaknesses :) . 


      When the open water event was announced, I found my way to a small lake near my house.  I could barely make 100m and it was frightening!   So when I got out of the water in Madison after swimming 500m mostly freestyle I truly felt victorious as if a great battle had been won.  Although I finished that workout 9th, I was so pumped!  As a competitive athlete, it is not often that I feel proud of my own performance but that was certainly a moment I will remember for a lifetime. 


      On to the obstacle course, which I’ll add was basically made entirely out of high objects & ropes, excellent...lol.  During our practice run, I could not even get passed the second obstacle; the incline log, jump to rope swing and land on another log, easier said than done.  On game day, however, I practiced it in the warm up area and then nailed it on my first attempt during the competition!  I then got through the monkey bars and now it was time for the WALL! 


      Based on my limited grip ability and fear of heights, I knew I only had one chance to get over this wall.  With some positive self-talk, I cautiously approached the wall.  Once at the top, I felt like I was up there for five minutes.  I remember telling myself “you have to fight”, and it was these self-motivating words that pushed me to release my hand from the rope to the top of the wall and ultimately get over. I did it I GOT OVER THE WALL!!  Most people would not be happy with a 16th place finish but for me it went way better than expected.


      I finished nine out of the ten workouts in the top ten.  I faced my fears and truly felt like I rose above.  I finished eighth on a workout with thirty muscle-ups and seventy-five feet handstand walk – another win! 


      Finishing 6th this year was extremely rewarding despite not finishing on the podium.  This admission, along with a shift in my mindset coming into this year’s Crossfit Season has made me a much stronger athlete.  I enjoyed the journey and didn’t leave any smiles on the table. Madison took me out of my comfort zone, tested my limits and allowed me to grow.  Excited to be back in Texas to attack my summer training and looking forward to what the future brings.

      Let the 2017 Games Begin ... - Written by Bethany Shadburne

      Let the 2017 Games Begin ... - Written by Bethany Shadburne

      Let the 2017 Games Begin…
      Written By: Bethany Shadburne

       

      What an experience this 2017 Crossfit Games Season has been.  Trying to capture this experience in text doesn’t even come close to doing it justice, however this is my best attempt to share all the things I’ve learned, not only about myself, but about competing at this level and Crossfit in general.  Before I completely dive into my Crossfit Games experience and how much fun I’ve had, let me start you off with a little bit of a background.


      Leading up to the 2017 Crossfit Games


      I grew up as a gymnast and competed for almost 8 years before moving on to a hodge-podge of addictions ranging from body building to endurance training including half marathons, sprint triathlons, obstacle course races.

      I found Crossfit in Nov. 2015 and competed in my first Crossfit Open (South Central) in 2016 where I didn’t quite make it to the regional round of competition (41st Place).  It was at this point when Crossfit Games Veteran Jenn Jones-Astle and her husband Jared Astle invited me to try their programming Black Magic Training (BMT), which obviously changed my life. 

      Fun Fact:  The 2017 Crossfit Season blessed me as a "double rookie" – making Regionals then the Games, both being 1st time achievements. 

      It’s been quite the whirlwind of a year, however I’ll be the first to share with you that upon learning that I made it to regionals my initial thought was, “okay this is amazing, please don't get last…” (Haha, but seriously).

      So after placing 4th at Regionals this year I was in total shock.  I couldn't believe that I had made it to the Games, It honestly didn't hit me until I got to Madison and was literally competing in event 1.  I can't believe this season is over, still feels like a dream.


      Athlete Check In


      Check in was so surreal. It was kind of ridiculous how much stuff we got. I expected to get some free clothing and shoes but the amount that we got was un-freak’n-believable!!! 5 pairs of shoes, so many varieties of leggings, t shirts, tanks, shorts, booty shorts, 10-12 head bands, socks, 4  pairs of Rehband knee sleeves, Gatorz sunglasses and the list goes on!


      I really felt like a celebrity; there was no shortage of photographers snapping pictures, all the women athletes were invited to get their hair and nails done, compliments of Crossfit, and everyone was so friendly.  So huge thanks to all the staff that was so extremely generous in treating every athlete like royalty.


      That night was the first athlete dinner which in itself could be a blog. I mean what could be cooler than all the Games athletes under one roof eating dinner while listening to Dave Castro congratulating us in one breath for making it thus far while essentially telling us how badly the weekend was going to hurt in another lol. 


      We were also introduced to the biking event known as “CycloCross” and what an event that was J.  I wish I had video capturing the “gasps” of so many athletes after walking through this event, at this point the adrenaline was for sure pumping.


      Day 0 - Time Trials


      Well this was fun!  We had to do a time trial for the CycloCross event to fairly seed the heats for the actual final CycloCross event taking place on Day 1 of competition. Getting to bike the course for the first time was nerve racking to say the least; Now I've biked before, but when you add in obstacles i.e. coming off the bike, running over planks of wood, jumping over logs, working through gravel, grass, and pot holes every 2 feet all while racing against other seriously competitive people it became an unpredictable dynamic, unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. 


      Despite coming in 8th during the time trials there was more to this story, like the time when my heat for the time trial started and my pants got caught in the chain causing a delay of 5 – 10 seconds, just long enough for me to frantically fix my pants and get going.  After regaining my composure, I chased the pack, followed by literally running into the pack upon the first turn (sorry Brooke Wells), which of course caused me to fall completely off my bike, lol. 


      I did end up getting 2nd in my heat of the time trial, so maybe these minor setbacks during the time trial were more of a blessing than anything, as now I was fired up to compete for real.


      Day 1 - Run Swim Run / CycloCross/ Amanda .45:


      “Wait, running, more running, and some endurance based events, yes sir, I think I’ll have some” ha. To be honest, I was extremely happy knowing that I would be able to rack some points early on with the understanding that the 3rd event was going to be a challenge for me. 


      The Run-Swim-Run was crazy. I swear everyone and their mom did their first 800m in 2 min and their first mile under 6 min. It was ridiculous how fast we were going, and that swim was no joke. Talk about scary. Swimming in open water is one thing, but swimming in open water with the males paired with choppy water because it happened to be raining that day was hands down the scariest swim I've ever been a part of.  Then the 2nd run on the way back felt like forever lol, but overall, I thought it was a great first event for me that allowed me to secure an 8th place finish.


      The CycloCross, now this was fun and Yes, I am the girl that that real-time announcer Dan Bailey was referring to the entire time about my pants, but I don't care lol if you were in my position you would have done the same damn thing. I am NOT Showing my butt on tv! I'm sorry I'd rather be known as the girl who pulled up her pants up every 2.5 seconds than the girl whose butt was on tv for everyone to see.  Other than that I loved this course! I did however completely lose focus on one of the last turns, ended up running into the wall, and again, off my bike completely lol. So sad, but it was such an incredible experience that I can't even be mad, and the fact that I was so close to Tia Toomey and in contention for those top couple spots is pretty cool in itself!


      Now this last event Amanda .45 was the one event on Day 1 that I was not looking forward to, and the fact that I was in the last heat competing against the best of the best was very intimidating. Now although I felt I was out of my league being in the most competitive heat for this particular event, I did exactly what I could do, gave it hell.  As high volume muscle-ups is a movement that I knew going into the games, if they showed up, would be a damage control workout that I wouldn't do so hot in.  Despite all my experience as a gymnast, ring MUs have never been my thing, so for me performing 45 of them with no fails was considered “a win” for this event.  Still a cool experience being in that last heat but man was it daunting to be in there head-to-head against these girls that are easily measured as Game’s veterans. 


      Day 2 – Sprint O-Course/ 1RM Snatch/ Triple-G Chipper/ Assault Banger


      Time to make up some ground. The O-course was definitely my jam. I knew this was going to be another solid opportunity to gain some decent points so I needed to capitalize.  I think the pressure of that, coupled with being a little timid on the second obstacle made me do really horrible the first round, It was close but I was able to avoid the round #2 cut off.  I honestly thought that I hadn't made it but when they called my name I became reinvigorated! Round 2 went way better and somehow, I pulled off a “W”.


      Then the finals came and nerves returned, being surrounded by all the Crossfit big named vets... yikes!  This of course opened the door to making a poor decision around wearing gloves. I mean, It was super cold out there and my fingers felt like they were falling off so I made the decision that will haunt me forever... I put on gloves. In theory, this is a great decision, my thought process was; hands are cold, need to keep them warm, so put on gloves. But nooooo, so dumb. Gloves ended up being the downfall of a potential win and $10,000. I ended up slipping on the ropes with three obstacles to go and it cost me. The big takeaway, BE CONSISTENT and do the same thing every damn time and do NOT switch up your game plans up last second.


      The rest of the day was Interesting to say the least. Next up was the 1RM Snatch. Warming up I was a little tired but my snatches were looking good and I ended up feeling really awesome and pumped.  I warmed up to a hefty 175# which is my personal PR. The game plan was to hit 175# on my opening lift and of course move onto 185 / 190 for the second one.

      Planning for this type of event will most definitely be worked on for future events because that game plan completely fell apart in a matter of seconds hahaha.  I went out there missed my 175# opening snatch twice, freaked out, dropped to 155# missed it once, and had 10 sec to hit it and thankfully I did, but man was that a heart breaker. It was crazy being out there and the spotlight only being on you. Nerves kicked in, I pulled the barbell way too high (a good problem to have right J) and blacked out, and that was that.

       

      Experience was definitely the missing piece to this event, and even although it kicked me right in the gut having missed an opening weight I hit warming up, it was probably the best thing that could have happen to me, as it won’t happen like this again. 


      Last but not least was the Assault Banger. Other than the fact that everyone's thumbs were fucked up the rest of the weekend, I got off this event and I was like l want to do this again. I can do it better. Middle of the pack, meh…


      Day 3 - Strongman’s Fear/ Muscle-Up Clean Ladder/ Heavy 17.5


      Saturday morning wakeup call 5am, talk about tired. We didn’t get out of the stadium Friday night until about 9pm and didn't get back to my room and into bed till ~11pm.  I think out of everything that was the part I disliked the most about this whole experience; late nights at the stadium and very early wake up calls the following mornings, exhausting, but the Games must continue!


      This was a total damage control day. Up to this point I’ve been working with a yoke for roughly a month so the Strongman’s Fear was going to be rough.  My cleans are about as amazing as they can be considering my Olympic lifting expertise is grounded in the 18 months I’ve put in since starting J. 


      Fingers crossed the mystery event was going to be wheel house considering how my body now feels at the end of this 3rd day of competition.  Heavy 17.5, nope, not wheel house…  I ended up finishing these events in 20th, 35th, and 29th place. 

      I took the remainder of the day 3 to enjoy my surroundings, the process, and the people around me. Saturday was a mentally challenging day for me, at this point in the competition I knew that my best just wasn't going to cut it this year and I started getting excited to get back home to Texas to continue training now that my weaknesses were very much exposed.  At the same time during this excitement I had the fear of completely losing composure on this day, falling apart, crying, and giving up, as the dream of coming out in my Games rookie debut with a massive bang was slowly turning into more of a mediocre dream of making the Games and not getting cut lol, none the less, it’s all still been a dream!!!. 

      Day 4 – Madison Triplet/ 2223 Intervals/ Fibonacci Final


      As the last day of competition and coming off of that tough Day 3 for me, it was definitely a day of reflection. I had my ups and downs and yes, I was tired, and yes, I was sore, but no, I didn't want to quit, and I wasn't ready to give up. The first event was a fun one and a good one for me, the Madison Triplet. This one involved a 450m run, burpees, jumping over hay bales and a d-ball.  The shins were pretty much ruined by this point because we were running on cement in Nanos but I managed to stay 2nd in my heat and liked getting to roll over the hay bales, thought it was pretty bad ass J. 


      The last two workouts 2223 Intervals and the Fibonacci Final. Those were interesting; but by this point during the Games anything that you are good at you end up being really shitty at, haha, just facts. One of my weaknesses includes my arms getting full of blood and prematurely blowing up causing me to fail quickly.  Unfortunately, both workouts involved a failure mechanism due to upper body muscle fatigue. So by this time I said fuck it, it is what it is, give it everything I have but at the same time don't get mad when the arms blow up. So that's how those workouts went; During rope climbs my biceps blew up and during the finale, my triceps blew up, simple as that lol. I just need more time with those skills and time under tension, nothing to be ashamed of or mad about, just something to look forward to improving upon for next year and in future years to come.  But I will have to say even though I didn't do so hot on these last two workouts, the lessons learned will prove to be invaluable!

       

      Closing & Thank You!!!


      All in all my experience in Madison was eye opening.  I feel that the ups & downs and the general volatility in emotions come with the territory.  This level of competition coupled with the volume, intensity, and nerves required to perform, is simply put, exhausting.    Despite the outbursts of tears throughout the competition (always followed by outburst of laugher, lol), I couldn't think of how this weekend could have gone any better as far as kicking off my Crossfit Games career (see what I did there lol).  From the staff to the event/workout selections hats off to Dave Castro and Crossfit, Inc. for organizing such an incredibly well run event.

       


      I knew going into the games and I still know now that I have a lot of room to improve and a lot of things to work on.  But where I was a year and half ago until now is completely night and day.  So if I can do as much improving as I did in a year in half just think about where I can potentially be in 2, 3, 4, even 10 years from now. The thoughts are endless and possibilities are vast! It definitely takes a lot of drive and hard work to want to do something like this but it also takes an amazing coach, programming, and an amazing support system by your side every step of the way. So thank you to my two coaches and fittest couple I know, Jared & Jenn Astle who saw me before I was nothing and reached out to me to be taken under their wing as a Black Magic Athlete.  To all of my family, friends, and sponsors who have been through this roller coaster called life with me love you all!