Monday, November 11, 2013

The Games Week, Sunday...

It's been a long time since I've had time to sit down and write the final post to the Games but here it is...

The final day...

Sunday - July 28th, 2013
Sprint Chipper
Rise and shine for the final day of the 2013 CrossFit Games. The first event for the day was the Sprint Chipper: 21-15-9 of MedBall GHD Sit-ups, Power Snatches with 100# and 9 burpees over a wall. This workout was a quick one. How fast can you move through these three movements?

I remember sitting in the GHD, getting ready for the horn to buzz, looking up in the stands and smiling. Soaking up the moment as the next few minutes would be a fast pace hustle to the end. I was calm and collected one moment, feeling my heart beat within my chest. As soon as the horn blew, the high pace competition began and my heart started to beat faster. I reached down and picked up my MedBall and tapped the top of the GHD. I made sure to hold on tight for all 21 reps.

As I finished the GHD sit-ups, I dropped the ball to the left and climbed out to the right to minimize my transition to the snatches. I ran to my barbell that was set up on the platform in my lane. I had my mind set on doing all 15 snatches in a row, but as I got to the 8th snatch I was not able to hold on to the bar. I dropped it to platform. Before the event Alex and I had talked about the plan, go for 15 snatches in a row; if I wasn't able to keep going, drop to doubles or singles, but keep moving. I picked the bar back up and finished the snatches as singles.

As I finished the last snatch, I dropped the barbell behind me and ran to the next obstacle, a 6 ft. wall built with Plexiglas and wood frames that we had to climb up and over. As I approached the wall, I dropped my chest to the floor, pulled myself up and jumped up and over that wall. I threw myself to the floor as fast as I flipped over the wall. I told myself one more burpee, one more burpee, all the way to the 9th rep.

As I finished the last rep, I sprinted my way to the finish line, pumping my arms back and forth, moving my body as fast as I could. I finished with a time of 3:27, landing in 30th place for that workout. As I stood in the field with the sun shining down on me, I could see the crowd in the stands.  I saw my friends and family in a sea a red, cheering me on, waving their arms in the air. The handmade signs that were held up by friends brought a huge smile to my face. I threw my arms in the air, waving my hands and blowing kisses to everyone as I was so grateful to have all of their support.

Cinco 1 & Cinco 2
My goal for the Games this year was to make it to the final workout on the final day. The top 30 athletes after the sprint chipper were selected to move on, and I was one of those athletes. I was excited and thankful to have made the last workout. All of the training that I had put in this past year paid off. All the hours in the gym, working on my weaknesses to get better, stronger and faster was all worth it to make it to the final event. I proved to myself that I could do it, that I was able to do everything that was put in front of me. It had been a long week, but one with some fulfilling moments and experiences.

Cinco 1, the first part of the event was composed of three rounds of five deadlifts at 265# and five weighted pistols (one-legged squats) on each leg with a 35# kettlebell hold. Once the three rounds were finished, we had an 80 ft.  handstand walk to complete. All this work needed to be done within seven minutes. Once the time was up, we had a one minute of rest, which then started the second part of the final event.  Cinco 2 was three rounds, of five muscle ups and five deficit handstand push-ups. After the three rounds were completed, we had to complete an overhead walking lunge at 100# for 90ft.

Going into Cinco 2 I knew that the deficit handstand push-ups were going to be very challenging, but I told myself that I would try my very best.

The first part, Cinco 1 was fun for me, as I like to lift heavy weight and the pistols are an easy movement for me. As I stood in the arena for the last workout, I looked up in the stands and smiled to everyone. This brought a feeling of calmness in me. I knew that in a few moments that may change but I made sure to take a deep breath and enjoy that moment.

As the horn blew, I pulled the 265# bar off the floor and those first five reps felt smooth and easy. By the last round, the bar felt like plus 300#. As fatigue started to set in, my back started to round and my neck started to arch. I knew that my body and mind would be tested to it's limits. I had prepared for this and put in the days, weeks and months of training to be able make it to the final event.

As I finished the last set of pistols, it was on to the handstand walk. The goal was to complete that walk and I got close. Kicking up into a handstand after 15 heavy deadlifts made the walk more challenging and was hard to stabilize. I felt the heat of the sun on my skin and the sweat rolling down my face as I kicked up into a handstand. As I started to walk down the black mat on my hands, I could feel my heart pounding through my chest. I told myself, one more step, just one more step. I kept trying to cover more ground, but I lost my balance and came out of the handstand. I shook out my arms, closed my eyes for a second and took a deep breath. I stayed calm and kept kicking back up into the handstand to complete the walk, but time ran out. I made it past the half way mark and finished with a tie for 20th place.

As the minute of rest started, I got ready for the next event. Even though I didn't finish the handstand walk, I let it go, as it was already in the past. The focus now was to perform single muscle-ups so I would be able to complete some handstand push-ups. I followed my plan for the muscle-ups and moved to the deficit handstand push-ups. I placed my hands on the blocks and kicked up into a handstand. I lowered myself until my head touched the floor, brought my knees to my chest and kicked my feet up, but I fell away from the wall. No rep for my first attempt. I rested a little, filled my lungs with air and then tried it again but I couldn't lock it out and fell off. I had hope that if I could get at least one rep, then that would maybe lead to another rep.

One attempt after another I would fall off that wall, but I didn't give up. I could feel my emotions run high, I could feel the tears swell up in my eyes. I looked up to the crowd and saw the people cheering for us, screaming and waving their arms. I saw one lady who was right in front of my wall encouraging me to keep going; I smiled at her, took a big breath and kicked up again. As I kicked my feet up, I tried to press my hands against the blocks, but I again, fell away from the wall. My judge offered some words of encouragement to me to help as I had yet to complete one rep of the handstand push-ups. I appreciated the help and said thank you.

At the end of the seven minutes, I had only completed those first five muscle-ups. I thanked my judge, signed my score card and turned to the woman in the crowd that had cheered me on. I waved to her, said thank you to her and everyone else in the stand. I walked up to the other athletes and congratulated them, hugged them and gave them high fives. I finished with a tie for 29th place.




As I started to walk across the arena, tears started to fill my eyes and my chest felt as though I had a heavy sandbag wrapped around my shoulders. I poured all of my energy into those last seven minutes and felt exhausted both physically and mentally. Was I defeated? No. Was I disappointed in myself? No. I was overwhelmed with emotions because I wanted to complete at least one handstand push-up, but no matter how hard I tried, it wasn't there for me. I could feel my tears swell up and start to roll down my cheeks, but as I looked up to the crowd, I gently wiped them away and smiled. I achieved my goal of making it to the final event on the final day at the CrossFit Games. I was proud of myself for accomplishing the goals I set out.

The CrossFit Games to came to a close for me, but it was one of the best experiences ever. I am forever thankful for all the encouragement and love from Alex, Jane, Roberto, Remy, Martha, Rafa, Marisa, Cristi, John, Amy, Austin, Lynnie, Marco, Marco Jr., Steve, Connie and Diablo. I am appreciative of all the support from my friends and family from DCF, back home and around the world, thank you!

So, what's next? Practicing more deficient handstand push-ups.

~ MCA

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Games Week, Saturday...

As the journey continues...

Saturday - July 27th, 2013
Naughty Nancy
Saturday was our earliest day, reporting at 7am for an athlete briefing, but it was another day filled with challenging events for everyone at the Games. The first event looked exciting as it had more running, but the run was up a big hill with lots of stairs and then lots of squats... hello quads. 

Looking back at this workout, I would actually like to try it again and see how I would do. It would definitely be hard to replicate unless I'm in the Stub Hub Center again, but to approach the workout with a different plan and see how it would unfold is enticing to me. 

The runs were challenging but I was able to be consistent with my pace and move through the course relatively well. The overhead squats were broken into three sets of different reps to make sure I didn't blow up, but as I approached the final round, I completed 22 overhead squats in a row as the buzzer went off, signaling the cut off time. It brought a question to my mind, would I have been able to complete the workout if I had done larger sets?

As I reflect back, it might have been possible to do larger sets of the squats, which in turn might have allowed me to finish the workout underneath the time cap. But how do I really know this? You cannot go back and say, oh if I would have done this, or if I would have done that, I could have finished... I did what I did, I followed my plan and did the event. Another workout under my belt. I finished with a tie for 26th place. 

1RM Clean & Jerk
The Clean & Jerk, one of my favorite lifts. This was another event that I was really looking forward to. In one of our athlete briefings, we were informed that we needed to provide our opening lift. The options were to start at 145, 165, 185 or 205. 

Right off the bat, I thought I could start at 185, as my max Clean & Jerk was 200. Alex and I talked about it and we were discussing how opening at 165 would be a better plan. At first my ego kicked in, start at 165 when I have been hitting over 185? I felt that I could start at 185, complete that lift and then move forward from there. But Alex knew what he was talking about, it was my ego that was getting in my way. My heavier lifts (185 and plus) had not been very consistent in the past couple of weeks to put it all on the line and risk missing my opening lift. 

There was a rule that stated if you didn't complete your opening lift, you were finished with the competition. So, with this in place the best plan was to open with 165 and have a few additional lifts to warm up and be ready for the heavier weight. A great plan. Thank you Alex for all your guidance and coaching, I couldn't have done it without you. 

We were all lined up and were called out to our starting weight. I approached each bar and lifted the weight, resting after the completion of each lift. I worked up to 190, hit the lift and then moved on to 195. I cleaned the bar, but missed the jerk so I rested and then reattempted the weight. I was able to clean it, but again, missed the jerk. So close. 

I was happy that I hit 95% of my max Clean and Jerk, and almost completed the 195 lift. I finished with a tie for 27th place. This event ignited my fire to get back to training after the Games. But until then, we focused on the next event.

2007 
Looking back this event, it was one of the most memorable workouts of the entire competition. I remember walking out onto the stadium floor, seeing the bright lights fill the arena, waving to all the fans in the crowd and smile as I jogged to my rower. While they called the other athletes onto the field, I set up my rower and got ready. Alex and I knew that this workout was all about the pull-ups for me.  Going into this workout I had both my plan and a back up plan that would allow me to complete all 125 pull-ups.

As we got ready and the horn blew, we started to row the 1000 meters. The 1k felt like no big deal compared to the half marathon a few days earlier. As soon as I completed my row, I walked straight to my bar and did butterfly pull-ups. I broke the 25 up into small sets and then moved on to the Push Jerks, completing all 7 in a row. As I continued on to the following rounds of pull-ups and Jerks, I could feel the intensity of the workout set it. My arms started to fatigue, my breathing got heavier, but I focused. I took deep breaths, shook out my arms and continued to move through the reps, one at a time.

As I approached that final set of Jerks, I finished the 7th rep, dropped the bar and jumped onto the finishing mat waving to the crowd and camera. Looking up to the crowd filled with family, friends and other Crossfitters, I blew kisses and waved because it was their support, their cheering that made it all worth it. With the contrast of the dark skies, the bright lights lit up the crowd, illuminating the arena and stands. This was a very memorable moment for me.

I walked up to my fellow competitors and cheered them on, encouraging them to keep going and keep fighting. One more rep, one more pull-up. It was an amazing feeling to be out there and cheer for them. Once our heat was finished, we gave each other high fives and hugged one another, congratulating them on their hard work.

Looking around and taking it all in, I smiled, feeling great about accomplishing something amazing. This accomplishment was doing butterfly pull-ups for the entire workout. For some Crossfitters, it might not be a big accomplishment, but for me, this was huge! A couple months prior at the NorCal Regionals, I had a hard time doing butterfly pull-ups in Jackie, I was able to complete about 10 reps, then I went to kipping pull-ups to finish the workout. Butterfly pull-ups were a hit-and-miss, but after all of Alex's programming and working on the butterfly pull-up, I was able to complete 125 reps. Again, this was a huge step for me and I was proud of myself. I finished that workout with a time of 11:59.7 for a 20th place finish.

My friend Hollee took a video of the end of the workout. She posted it to my wall after the Games and it brought tears to my eyes hearing all the support from everyone in the stands... thank you all for cheering me on and supporting me reach my goals!



As our Saturday came a close, Alex and I looked back on the day and talked about what we learned. Day two was in the books. We prepped for Sunday and turned in for the night.

~ MCA

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Games Week, Friday...

To follow up my first post, I wanted to finish writing and share my experience with those around me, both near and far.

Friday - July 26th, 2013
Burden Run
Looking back at this day and getting ready for the whole weekend, I remember it was full of emotion and excitement. The first workout of the day, the Burden Run, was a challenging event and looking back, it was one of the hardest. 

The run was good, only a little over 2 miles, but you had to be smart in how you started off. My goal was to keep a 7 minute pace for the run so when I approached the Pig I would get started right away. I was able to stay pretty much on pace, a little over 14 minutes by the time I reached the Pig. 

We didn't have the opportunity to flip the Pig before hand, so when we all started to arrive at the field, everyone was on the same page, flip this bad boy, end over end until we reach the end of the field. That little Pig was heavy but there was so much adrenaline going through my body. I bent over, loaded my body, heaved it up and then pushed it over one rep at a time. Taking deep breaths, filling my lungs with oxygen, telling myself I can do this and getting prepped for the next flip. 

I reached the log, rolled it up my body and held it close to my head and left shoulder. As I turned on to the track, I tried to shift the weight to have a better grip on the log, but it slipped and rolled off my back. I lifted it back up to my left shoulder and wrapped my arms tightly around it, interlocking my fingers, holding on to it for dear life. 

As I reached the stadium, I dropped the log and grabbed the straps for the sled and got ready to pull. I drove my feet into the damp grass, leaning forward and putting my weight into those straps. It started to move slowly, inch by inch, foot by foot, I pulled it forward. As my legs started to burn, the momentum started to slow, coming to a halt. I launched forward, driving my feet down but I did not move. I could not get that sled started. I tried and tried again. Finally... I started to move, I leaned forward with all my might and finished the workout in 35:07, 20th place in that workout. 

Going into that workout, I thought I was going to be able to move that sled a little fast than I did, but I was happy that I finished the workout underneath the time cap. I learned a lot of things from this workout and I stuck to my plan for the weekend, which was to enjoy each event, stay present and then reflect on it when it was completed and then move forward to the next. 

Pulling the sled across the finish line.


Zig Zag Sprint and Legless
The following events included the Zig Zag Sprint and Legless. I was excited to do sprint as it was a short, fast and explosive event and definitely something different than a day in the gym. It was also interesting as it was a bracketed scoring, the top three individuals in each heat would continue on. I went out there and gave it my best and ran my hardest. I was finished after just one round with a tie for 38th. 

As all the women stood on the field, waiting to see who would go on, I could see friends and family in the stands and the incredible crowd, cheering for everyone. It was sight to see. As I close my eyes now, I see everyone screaming and yelling, holding their signs and water bottles and I remember seeing the emotion on peoples faces, the passion and zest that they have for this sport.

They were all there to support and watch everyone. They connected with us and I know I connected with them. I have said this before to friends and family: I'm a part of the community and the community is part of me. I wouldn't be here without all the support and love from everyone. For everyone out there, thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

For the next event, Legless. This was one that was going to be more of a challenge, how many legless rope climbs can I complete? I practiced and was able to get two while warming up and I felt good. The minimum requirement was one rope climb, our goal was to get through those first four rope climbs. 

As I walked on to the stadium, I waved to the crowd and smiled, soaking up the moment. I focused on the workout and my plan. After completing the thrusters, I jumped up to that first rope and got up pretty smoothly. I rested and then went for my second climb, completing it with a tap at the top of the rig. I moved over to my third rope and shook my arms out, jumped up and climbed the rope. Once I got to the top, I swiped the top of the rig, but as I descended the judge called it a no rep as the contact at the top needs to be more controlled verses a swipe. I said ok, let's try it again. I tried and tried, but could not make it to the top. I was a few kips away, my grip started to give and my hands started to slip. I didn't give up though, I kept trying and kept fighting for the remainder of the time. 

As the clock hit 10 minutes, I had only completed 2 rope climbs, but again I put it all out there and didn't give up. I finished with a tie for 34th place. 

As the day came to a close, I knew I tried my best on each event and put everything on the table. I was proud of what I had accomplished and was lucky and grateful to have Alex, my family and friends by my side. I learned a lot this day. I shared with family and friends that we will be adding more legless rope climbs into my training.

Yes, I will admit that I wish I could have gotten more rope climbs, but I am at where I am at. I didn't have the upper body strength to complete all those rope climbs. This workout is one that showed a weakness of mine, or an 'area of improvement' as I like to think of it. How did I learn this? By going through this event and gaining valuable experience. One of our goals this year at the Games was to gain experience and I did.

With day one in the books, we reflected on the day and then focused our energy to the next day...

~ MCA

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Games Week...

It's been awhile since my last post, Pre-Games, but life has been busy like always and I have been occupied with other events.

My mind flashes back to the Games, I think of all the memories that were created and all that unfolded. I want to go into all the details but I'm going to try and give an overview of the days and the amazing experience that I had.

Monday - July 22, 2013
I went to the check in area to get all of my athlete gear for the week. It was incredible, so many people volunteering and working to make it all happen. I met some women and men while in line and chatted with them briefly as we made our way through the line to collect everything we needed. Shirts, shorts, bathing suit, shoes, bag and accessories. It was an incredible amount of gear. A huge thanks go out to Reebok and CrossFit for making this all happen. 

As the day unfolded, Alex and I had time to relax and unwind before the athlete dinner. We soaked it up and enjoyed the moment.

Monday night dinner: There were two large buses that transported all the athletes, all the women in one bus, all the men in the other. At the beginning of the bus ride, Lindsey V. stood up and shared how we should all go around and introduce ourselves, saying our name, where we are from and share a something about yourself. I really liked this, because it made me think of all the classes I coach and all the fun and interesting things I have learned from my friends and members at the gym. It was cool to hear what everyone shared; I found out that one of the girl, Natalie, races motocross. I thought that was pretty awesome and I definitely learned more about the girls. This was a great way to break the ice.

We approached the Stub Hub Center and got seated for dinner and had some of the workouts announced. When Dave asked if anyone had ever done a half marathon, my arm shot high into the air, I was super excited... a long run!? Omg, yes, this will be great!

Then, he said, "on a rower?".  I think everyone's jaws dropped haha. It was one of those moments for me where I thought... yeah, I have never done that before. But there's a first time for everything right?

The other workout that was released while we were at dinner was Naughty Nancy. We got to stand by the edge of the balcony and watch as Pat Barber demonstrated one round of the workout; it looked like a fun but challenging one with the stairs involved, but I was looking forward to this experience.

Tuesday - July 23, 2013
This was a day to prep and run through things before the competition started. The athletes were taken to a pool to practice getting into the water and have the opportunity to try a few bar muscle ups. It was a good dry run as it allowed me to feel how the muscle ups were going to feel soaking wet.

What did I learn? Tighten my goggles and get a good grip on that bar. With every experience, you learn something new, so go into it with an open mind and see what works and what doesn't work.

Wednesday - July 24, 2012
Swim workout 
Rise and shine! Alex and I got up early, got ready and prepped for the first day of competition. All the athletes were transported by bus again to an aquatic center for the workout. The plan was to leave at 6:15am, well the buses were a little late and there was a lot of traffic, so we got to the aquatic center with very minimal time to prep.

It was a little sporadic and hectic with 44 women trying to use the restrooms and get prepped for the first workout. I was in the first heat, so we only had about 5 minutes to get ready and get lined up. We had the opportunity to hop into the pool for a 25m warm up swim then had our timer chips put on our ankles and then lined up to start exactly at 8:00am.

I understand that we had to go at a certain time, as we were going to be broadcasted on TV. I would have loved to have at least 20 minutes to warm up and practice a bar muscle up, but you cannot worry or stress about the uncontrollable factors. As Alex told me, adapt and overcome, a saying he heard in the Marine Corps.

So we got lined up and got started right on time. Being in the water offered a feeling of calmness at a certain point, as it is just you in your lane and your stroke. I focused on my stroke through the water and made sure to get to my bar quickly, dry my hands off and get prepped for the bar muscle ups. I finished in 16:30.4, second in my heat and 15th overall. I was happy with this, as the goal for this workout was top 15. I gave it my best and that was what mattered.

Row workout
After everyone completed the swim we were transported to the Stub Hub center again for the half marathon row. All athletes were going at the same time, so we all got prepped and dressed to sit and row for over an hour. Some athletes had long pants, some had shorts, some had arm sleeves, others had gloves. It was interesting to look around and see other athletes and what they were going to wear for this event.

All the athletes got seated and waited for the beep. We had a 2k row for time, then straight into the half marathon: 21,097 meters. The first 2k was ok, I believe a majority of people were all pushing to get the best time. Compared to the half marathon, the 2k went by pretty fast.

Reflecting back on this workout, it is one that I will probably not repeat, but it was a good experience. I learned what I would need or want for a workout similar to this. People would ask me, how did you do it, what did you focus on? I would focus on a few different things: my stroke rate, how my body was feeling, my support - Alex, friends, family. I would also look up into the crowd, glance from side to side, take in the moment, then back to my stroke rate.

This workout had a big mental component - you are on a rower for over an hour, moving your body, but not having different scenery. Being able to see the meters slowly count down but know that you have a good amount of distance ahead. It's funny because I remember looking the monitor and thinking, oh great, I only have 8,000 meters left. Only? Haha, but in the big picture I was almost finished.

I completed the 2k with a time of 7:42.6 and the half marathon with a time of 1:29.02, finishing 13th and 2nd respectively. It was one of the many highlights of the Games as it was one of my highest finishes in the events.

I learned a lot from this day and was looking forward to the rest of the weekend and competition. This was just the beginning but it was a great start. Alex and I focused on one workout and one day at a time. Thinking back on these memories make me smile as I had an amazing opportunity.

Thursday - July 25th, 2013
Our rest day before the big event. The athletes had some mandatory things to do, such as a press conference - first time for everyone so it was different, but again a good experience. It was the day to prep and get ready for the weekend. Alex and I enjoyed the day and soaked up it all up.

I wanted to keep things short but there were more thoughts and emotions behind my words. I will write another post to share my thoughts and experiences for the rest of the weekend. Thanks to everyone for reading my blog and supporting me, it means a lot!

~ MCA

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Pre-Games...

Our journey began about a week before we needed to check in for the Games. Alex and I headed to San Diego to visit my aunt Martha, uncle Rafa, my cousins Marisa and Cristi and Luis, Marisa's boyfriend. We spent the next few days in and around San Diego, visiting gyms, catching up with old friends, meeting new friends and relaxing before the big event.

On Wednesday we met up with a new friend, Courtney - a friend of Hilary's and went to La Jolla Shores to practice ocean swimming. She was very nice and had a lot of helpful tips in regards to getting in and out of the water. She took the time to spend her morning with us and help us with swimming, we were both very appreciative of this!! It is moments like this where you are thankful for the friends in your life and the events that unfold. Thank you Courtney, Hilary and James for all your help and friendship, means so much to us!

The following day we went to CrossFit Mission Gorge, visited the owners, ran into some old friends and trained. Let's rewind real quickly: two years ago I went the Left Coast Invitational competition in August 2011 at CFMG and met a lot of people from the gym. In the competition, I hit a personal record of 165 lbs. for my Clean and Jerk that year. Being back in the gym made it feel like it was just a few months ago. It was a great experience being there, as I got to reflect on where I was two years ago and where I am now. To also see the progress within a year was amazing and it light a fire in me to stay focused on my plan.  Thank you to Ian, Tami and everyone else at CFMG for letting us train there for the day. We appreciate your hospitality and look forward to returning in the future!

The next couple of days we checked out some other gyms, CrossFit Secutor, CrossFit Chula Vista and CrossFit 858. We visited with Mark from CF 858, stretched and chatting with some of the members there. It was good to talk with others and again reflect back from where I started.

My cousin Cristi introduced us to some friends of hers, Carlos, Evan and Dave - who coach and train at some of the gyms in San Diego. Evan allowed us to workout at his home gym, giving us a place to train for the afternoon. We were very thankful for his hospitality and generosity!! To Carlos, Evan and those at CF Secutor - Kyle, Dave and the others, we are very appreciative and hope to all see you again soon.

As the weekend came to a close, we made two final stops. The first was at Walnut CrossFit to meet up with owner Rob and some of the ladies and men that train there. We did some lifting and then talked with them about our training, nutrition and how everything plans a part into your life. It was great to be able to speak with others and share the information that we have learned together. Alex and I both have a passion to be able to help others and inspire others to work towards their goals, whatever they may be. This experience was amazing and we are blessed to have had this opportunity with them. Thank you Walnut CrossFit!!

The final stop was to my other aunt and uncle's house, BJ and James. We visited with them and my cousins Jenny and Austin, discussing about the upcoming events and what it would entail. We also talked about their goals and what they are doing in life. This was very refreshing as it allowed us to really see the bigger picture in life.

Spending quality time with your family, friends and important people in your life. We thoroughly enjoyed being able to sit down, have an amazing meal (thank you BJ and James) and have many conversations about a variety of topics. Yes, we had a lot going on in the next few days, but we relished the moment that we were in and stayed present. As the sun settled and the day winded down, we said our good-byes and wished one another well. A huge thank you to our family for always welcoming us in and having us over!!

As the weekend closed, we looked back at all the hard work we had done, all the fun we had this past week and got ready for the next page - the start of the CrossFit Games.

To wrap up my thoughts and words of the 'Pre-Games' it brings to mind this phrase: the calm before the storm. Something to think about before any big event or moment in your life. Take a moment to enjoy everything that you have worked for. Take the time to relish the effort you put forth, no one can take that from you, so soak it up!

~ MCA

Friday, August 2, 2013

2013 CrossFit Games

La Jolla, CA

The 2013 CrossFit Games... one of the best experiences in my life. There is so much to go over, review and reflect on. I want to talk about it all, but that will be a long post so I am going to give a brief recap and a shout out to those in my life. I will go in depth in a later post.

The attitude I had going into the Games was one of happiness and excitement. I was looking forward to this experience and opportunity and I made sure to make the most of it. 

Leading up to the Games, Alex and I had the chance to see family and spend time with them. We also got to see some old friends, meet some new friends and check out some boxes. It was very fulfilling to do this, as we got to enjoy time with one another and soak up some time outside of the gym.

To some up the week and weekend, incredible and breathtaking! As we got checked in, we absorbed as much as we could; meeting athletes from around the world, talking with some of them and getting to know them a little better. We shared our experiences and enjoyed each day. The workouts were great, testing a variety of pathways and skills, just as you would expect. There are lots of things Alex and I learned and have added to our list of things to work on. I will talk more about the workouts in the days to follow.

I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported Alex and I. My family, his family, our family - my mom, dad, sister(s), cousins, aunts, uncles, second cousins, etc. Friends from California, Montana, Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Mexico and all the other places. Your support has meant so much to us. The texts, messages, posts, emails, hugs, smiles, cheers... they are all very much appreciated. We can't say thank you enough!!

I wouldn't be here without you all. Looking into the stands, smiling and waving to everyone was one of the biggest things I was looking forward to. And I did it every time I walked onto that stadium floor. It is about community; it is about the support of true friends and the belief in the dreams that one may have. I had a dream of going to the CrossFit Games and I made it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for believing in me! Thank you to Alex for being my best friend, boyfriend, partner and side kick!

I opened a fortune cookie before the start of the weekend and below is what was revealed... 






It brought a smile to my face reading it. Life has so many ups and downs, forward and side way turns, but it's how you absorb them. It's how you reflect on these experiences in life and how you move forward. 

I had a goal of making that final workout on the final day and I achieved that. I placed 26th overall and I am happy with my result. Since starting CrossFit in Feb/March 2011, I am happy with my progress and growth. All the hard work that has been put in, has paid off. I will continue to work hard and will continue to learn and grow. 

I look forward to the path that is ahead. I look forward to helping others and being an advocate for positive change. For each individual out there working towards your goals: 

Surround yourself with positive people. 
Write down your goals so you see them everyday. 
Make a plan, work hard and stay focused.
Enjoy the process and have fun.

Thank you again to everyone who has provided support! Enjoy your day and smile :)

~ MCA

Friday, June 7, 2013

NorCal Regionals...

It's been about two weeks since the NorCal Regionals. Some times it feels as though it's been longer, other times it feels as though it was just the other day.

There have been so many emotions and feelings since then. First thing I want to say is thank you to all those who have supported and believed in me. To my man, Alex, who has been there every step of the way, loving and encouraging me. To my family who supported me, in person and in different states, cheering me on every day and every workout. To my friends at Diablo, who cheered me on and my friends across the states supporting me - in Boston, Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Montana and other parts of California. I hope you all know how appreciative I am of your support and love!! Being able to think of you and see you in the crowd, brings a smile to my face. I love seeing you all and waving to you all, as you all mean so much to me!

This has been my goal now for two years and I have put so much blood, sweat, tears and time into this goal... and it has all been worth it. Reflecting back on the regionals, I look at each workout and see my performance. I wanted to write and share my thoughts...

Workout #1 - Jackie: 1000m row, 50 thrusters 45#, 30 pull-ups
I had performed this workout a few times before in training. Alex had programmed it for me after Craig and I were coaching one morning. The workout for the day was Jackie and it was revealed that I have not done it before, so it quickly became on the top of my workouts 'to do', haha. Thank you Craig for your encouragement. :)

So fast forward to regionals. Alex and I had prepped for this workout and I had a plan. It was a workout I was looking forward to doing, but had some nerves because it was the first workout of the competition. I focused on me and what I needed to do. The row was a steady pace but fluid, staying at a 2:00 min pace, then dropped to a 2:02 min pace. Straight to the thrusters and 50 reps unbroken, these felt good - as good as 50 unbroken thrusters will get lol. Then, the goal with the pull-ups was 10/5/5/5/5, as this was the hardest part for me. I was able to maintain that until I got to the 20th rep, and the rep scheme got a little shorter. I finished with a 6:38, a PR for me, so I was happy. This time put me in 7th place. I would have liked to stick to my plan of doing 5/5 the last 10 reps, but again, I was able to improve my time, so I was happy.

Workout #2 and #3 - 3 RM OHS; 30 Burpee Muscle-ups for time
This was a workout that made me a little nervous when it first came out, but after practicing, I felt better about it. Overhead strength and overhead movements has been something that Alex and I have been working on improving. He has done an amazing job of helping me increase my overhead strength and increase my shoulder stamina. Last year, I was not able to do any muscle ups in the regionals. I tried and gave it my all; I got on top of the rings but could not press out. I spent 17 minutes trying. This year, we hammered muscle ups and I have gotten a lot better. I still have a lot of growth and improvement, but I am happy and grateful for the success I have made.

As the second workout began, I focused on my plan again... open with 175, load the next weight, rest. Overhead squat 180 for three, add the next weight, rest and try to get as many reps with 185. The platforms weren't as stable as I had practiced on but oh well, this is our lifting platform, do your work. I hit 175 and got ready for 180. I actually hit the back of my head while jerking it up, but it didn't hurt too bad, I stayed focused and hit 180 for all three reps. I continued to 185, I was able to get it up but was not able to stabilize it. Completing 180 for three put me in 8th place with a tie. My plan was, if I missed it, stop, get ready for the next workout.

My goal was to be nice and steady for the muscle ups, as this was one of the harder workouts for me. My adrenaline got me amped up and I started out a little too fast, feeling good the first minute, but the energy started to fade as the minutes progressed. I ended up with a final score of 19 reps, with three no reps. The goal was to get 22, so I was a little shy of that but it was a learning lesson. My 19 reps placed me in another tie for 14th.

Workout #4 - 100 Wallballs, 100 C2B, 100 Pistols, 100 DB snatches
Out of all the workouts that were to be performed this weekend, workout #4 challenged me the most. Some movements were easy, others were discouraging. Not because of the volume, but because the movement in itself was hard. This movement was the chest to bar pull-up. Pull-ups and chest to bar pull-ups have been challenging for me, but I have worked on them and will continue to do so.

My plan was to break up the wallballs into sets of 10, chest to bar in sets of 2, steady on the pistols and keep moving on the snatches. I felt nervous for this workout but I kept breathing and focusing on my plan, one rep at a time, one movement at a time. The adrenaline was a factor for the wallballs, which brought me too fast out of the gate, but I stuck to my plan on the chest to bar and hammered through those 100 reps. The pistols were the easiest movement for me and I was able to flow through those at a relatively quick pace. The dumbbell snatches were another obstacle, but I tackled it, one at a time, completing 60 snatches. My goal was to get to 70 snatches, so I was 10 reps shy but again, I gave it my all and tried my hardest. I tied for 6th place with this finish.

Workout #5 - 21-15-9 DL 205# and Box Jumps 24 inches
I was looking forward to this workout, as I felt good with the deadlifts and box jumps. This was a different workout from what was programmed at the 2011 Regionals. I didn't participate in the 2011 Regionals as I had only started crossfitting 3 months prior, but I had volunteered for the SoCal Regionals so I remember seeing the original workout.

I stuck to my plan with breaking up the deadlifts and keeping the box jumps fluid. The goal was to hit a sub 4 minute time. My plan worked for me and I hit my goal, completing the workout in 3:58. This score placed me 3rd in the workout and I was very happy.

Workout #6 - 100 DU, 50 HSPU, 40 T2B, 30 Push Press, 90ft Front Rack Lunge
When I first saw this workout, I thought it would be awesome and it shouldn't be too bad. Well, it was little deceiving to say the least. After doing a run through, it was a little more challenging than I anticipated. Thinking about our plan approaching this workout, we decided to break the double unders, 50/50, handstand push-ups 10/10 and sets of 5 after. The toes to bar were going to be broken into sets of 4 and push press into sets of 5. The 90ft of lunge was going to be unbroken.

As I started this workout, I focused on my plan and breezed through my double unders, which was not the case when I first started crossfitting. The pic below was posted on the DCF blog by JJ the other day, the photo on the left is me trying to do double unders in the first Open work out in 2011, a couple weeks after starting CrossFit. The photo on the right was after the fifth regional workout 2013. A flashback for sure but a great memory.


Back to the workout... I moved on to the HSPU, doing my first two set of 10, but then had to break the reps up more as my shoulders started to fatigue. The toes to bar went as planned and moved through the rather easily. The push press was a challenge however, I had to break away from sets of 5 to sets of 3 and 4. As soon as I finished the push press, my focus was on the 90ft unbroken lunges. That was my goal and I was sticking to it. I focused on the sign in front of me and lunged out the first 45ft. The second half took a little bit longer but I kept grinding, I fought for every step and as my elbows started to drop I could feel my legs burning more, so I kept pushing. I crossed the line and jumped to the finish mat, so happy to have accomplished my goal. My legs burned and it was a challenge to walk after, but it was all worth it, as I finished 3rd place.

Workout #7 - 2 rope climbs, 100ft sprint, 4 Full Cleans 135# - Four rounds
The final workout was another one I was looking forward to at the day of competition. When the workouts were released, the rope climbs made me a little nervous as I had not practiced them regularly. With some practice, I felt good about my technique and was excited to do this workout. As the final heat of ladies lined up, I reflected back on the past couple of days, I was happy with my performance and had enjoyed each day to it's fullest. I repeated my plan inside my head and would focus only on my lane.

My goal was to get a sub 5 minute time and place first in this workout. It was one of those workouts Alex and I felt I could perform well in. I met one of my goals and finished with a time of 4:48. I finished 2nd overall in that workout, but I know there was nothing else I could of left on that field.



As soon as the work out was over we were all asked to wait in the arena until the final scores were submitted and calculated. I was unsure if I qualified for the Games at that moment, as the competition became so close. As we waited for the final results, I congratulated everyone and was talking with Amy and Rachel and we were excited for the day to be finished but happy for all the hard work we put into the weekend. I was dancing to the music, enjoying the moment and happy to be where I was, thinking, whether I qualify or not, I gave it my all. I put everything out there, I didn't hold back and didn't have any regrets.

Then, they called out the last name of the top three athletes and we were pulled to the side. We were standing next to the announcer, waiting to go on the live feed and it was so surreal for me. Did I qualify, what was the final score?

It was so surreal, I have worked so hard for this goal and here I was. I have talked about my goal since competing last year; I am going to compete as an individual again and my ultimate goal is top three at regionals. I want to qualify and compete at the CrossFit Games. I have written it down, I have repeated it numerous times. I have poured my heart into this goal of mine, putting all my energy into it and it has been well worth it!

I want to say thank you again to all of those who have supported me, believed in me and have let me do my thing to reach my goal. Knowing you are in my corner brings such happiness, I feel lucky and blessed to have so many amazing friends and such a great community by my side and in the stands. Your smiles, high fives and cheers mean so much to me. I'm going to continue to train hard and work towards my goals!!

~ MCA

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The up and coming weekend...

This up and coming weekend is the CrossFit NorCal Regionals. There have been so many emotions leading up to this weekend.

Excitement. Nervousness. Happy. Calm. Worried. Stressed. Overjoyed. Definitely up and down emotions. I have wanted to make sure that I am ready for all that comes my way. I have realized that I have trained hard. I have put the work in that had needed to be done. I am at where I am at. 

Alex has been an amazing boyfriend, coach, friend... my everything. He's seen the ups and the downs. I have worked on all my weaknesses and I am happy for all that I have accomplished in this past year. Yes there are still things to work on, to fine tune and sharpen, but that will be continuous. And to me, that is a great thing because it shows that you are constantly learning and growing. 

I am going to go out there and give it my best. I am going to have fun and enjoy this competition, as I have trained for it all year. As my good friend Roni said, "you have everything to gain and nothing to lose." Thank you for those words Roni, appreciate it!

Thank you to my Alex whose been there since day one, you've been my rock and you've helped me in many ways. Thank you to all my family, the support has been amazing. I'm looking forward to seeing my mom, dad, sisters, aunt and cousins. Thank you to all those friends who have supported me and have  cheered me on. The smiles, the high fives, the positive screams... all have been incredible and hope you know that I appreciate each and every one. 

Out of all the emotions I feel, I am grateful. I am grateful for this opportunity and I am so very blessed to be able to compete. For all those who aspire to compete, whether it be CrossFit or anything else, dream big, follow your heart and never let anyone pull you from your passion. Life is meant to be lived and you should live each moment to it's fullest as you never know what is next. 

Life is beautiful in so many ways. 

~ MCA

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Bliss...


Found this photo while going through my photo booth on my computer. Words that come to mind: bliss, ease, happy, relaxed, enjoyment and many more.

I'm blessed to have found a man that I can have so much fun with. We have our silly moments, our serious conversations, deep and meaning talks and then our adventures. He's my best friend and everything wrapped into one. I'm so lucky to have Alex as my man, as my partner and other half. Te amo Alex.

To all those who have found their other halves, enjoy your time with one another, tell each other how much you mean to them. Don't be afraid to show it or tell them. If there are people that tease you for that, then they are missing something in their life for sure.

To all those who haven't found their other half, or are still looking... it will happen. It will unfold when you expect it least. Still make the most of life and enjoy all that you have.

~ MCA

Purpose of life...

Some times you need to have fun. Be silly. Be adventurous. Enjoy the life you have.
Savor the food you eat, taste the flavors and enjoy each bite.
Look outside, watch the leaves flicker in the wind. Watch the sunset. See how the clouds change.

When you are happy, smile and feel those emotions in every part of your body. Feel your eyes light up,  feel the warmth in your cheeks from your laughter.

When you are sad, sit with those emotions. Feel your tears gently roll down your cheeks. Let your heart   ache for the feelings that are passing through your body.

What does it take for you to realize that life is short? What experiences do you go through to realize that   you should live your life to its fullest? Do you treat others as you would like to be treated? Are you respectful of others? Are you aware of the things you do and don't do?

Be appreciative of your family, friends, loved ones. Be thankful for all the people in your life. Be grateful for the food on your table, the roof over your head, the clothes in the closet. For all the little things that we get caught up on, let it go, take a breath and know that it will be ok.

What's the purpose of life? To live life! So very simple but we think there has to be an elaborate answer. Feel each emotion that passes through us, feel it 100%. For every experience that we go through, enjoy the journey. For all the people that come into our life, be respectful of them.

When we are older and look back on our lives, we should say that we truly enjoyed life, our journey and all that we experienced.

~ MCA

Friday, April 26, 2013

Mobility...

So for those who know me, I love mobility and stretching. It is part of my daily routine. I'll mobilize or stretch before and after my training. I believe it is a very important part to one's training.

Each person is different and this goes the same with his or her body. Some people may have to spend more time stretching their shoulders, others may have to work on their hips or hamstrings. Not every body is created the same. Nonetheless, some time should be dedicated to taking care of your body.

I see a lot of people say, I live a healthy lifestyle, I workout, I eat clean. Ok, cool, sounds good; how's your mobility, how's your flexibility or range of motion? Oh well, I have tight hips, I can't squat below parallel. Oh, ok. Well, let's work on that.

So this is just one example, but what I want to point out is that a lot of people put a good amount of energy and attention to lifting, working on skills and eating clean, which is great, but what about your flexibility? Do you just finish the met con, say good bye to your coach, friends and head out the door still sweating? I can tell you that I have seen more than a handful of people do this at the gym. It makes me laugh because I see it almost every day. I understand that life is busy and there are numerous things to get done in a day, but if you don't start to make time for it, then things with your body will start to drastically change.

You may not notice it at first, but over time, your range of motion in your hips, back, or whatever is ailing you will decrease. The tightness in certain body parts will increase. Think about the time you sit at your desk, how long have you been sitting there, 4 hours, all day? Have you taken a break to stretch your legs, even if it's for two minutes? How do your hips feel? Do you feel hunched over with your shoulders rounding forward?

I used to work as a Marketing Coordinator and I would sit at my desk, answering emails and phone calls, and stare at the computer. After a couple hours my back and hips would ache and I would switch to kneeling on my knees so I could give my hips a break. So I know what it feels like, it is not comfortable.

To all my friends and family out there, please move from time to time! If you travel a lot, get out of the car or out of your seat and move around. Our bodies are designed to move! For those that are working out, whether it be CrossFit or any other sport, do some mobility and stretching. Pre workout can have some mobility and dynamic stretching; post workout can have more mobility and more static stretching. If your hips are tight, do something to help increase your flexibility. Same thing goes for your shoulders.

A great example would be Alex. I have encouraged him to stretch and use a lacrosse ball to increase his mobility in his shoulders and it has helped. His range of motion has increased, but he has had to put some solid work in to get there. He will do some pre and post workout mobility and with the consistency, he has improved his range of motion. Before we met, he did very little to none stretching. He has put a lot of effort into doing these stretches and I'm very proud of him!!

To all my friends, family, members at the gym and everyone, get up and stretch. Move your body and be thankful for all that you have. Be thankful for your body and make the most of it!

~ MCA

Friday, April 19, 2013

Day in and day out...

Wow, it's been a long time since I've blogged. I have wanted to write for some time now but the past two to three weeks have been pretty busy.

Since the open has finished, Alex has increased a little bit of my training, but it's been a great thing. We are working hard and grinding it out. The open was a good experience; a variety of workouts to test your level of fitness.

The open was never our main focus; regionals has been our focus, but it's hard sometimes when you want to do well and see how you have improved from the year before. Last year I placed 49th in the region. It was a little scary near the end of the open last year; my performance in the last two workouts dropped me, to the point where I was nervous that I was not going to make regionals. It was a little stressful but I gave it my best and finished where I finished.

This year, we gave it our best again. Alex and I prepped and had worked really hard to be ready for the open. There was a little bit of a repeat from last year; the 150 wall balls, 90 double unders and 30 muscle ups in 12 minutes. This was a huge test for me because in 2012 I was not able to get any muscle ups; this year I was able to complete 12 muscle ups.

At first it was mixed emotions, Alex had programmed this workout a few months prior and I had finished with 13 muscle ups. Our goal was to complete 15 reps. So at first I was a little bummed since I was shy of my goal, but at the same time I was excited and happy that I completed 12 more than last year. Definitely an improvement. I try to always look at the positive and see the best out of everything. I am always pushing myself and wanting to improve and get better. At the same time, people and myself included, should reflect back and give themselves the recognition they deserve when a huge accomplishment is achieved.

So I gave myself a pat on the back for the work that I did and focused my energy moving forward. The final workout was tough as well, thrusters and chest to bar pull ups. My gymnastics is something that is a work-in-progress. Alex has done an amazing job of programming to improve my gymnastic skills and it has helped immensely, as proven by that fourth open workout. We are constantly working on it but I have made a lot of gains this year.

Which brings me to my thoughts that I have had these past few weeks. It has been a year of growth for me in so many ways. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. After regionals last year, Alex and I talked about goals and what needs to be worked on to improve. We sat down, discussed it and set up a plan.

I would go to the gym, look at my training for the day, write it in my little book and get started. I like having a plan and a program to follow; it gives me structure and a routine to follow. Some days would change depending on how my body would feel or how much I slept, etc. If things were altered that needed to be, it worked but having an overall plan was key. I would set up my stuff, warm up, mobilize, do my thing.

It's usually just me when I train. When Alex is off of work, we train together and some times do the same lift or workout, or completely different things. There have been a few times where I've had some friends join me, Erica and Gordon, and take part in Mangofit. Remember that fun, long interval workout? Lol.

When I look back to my years of working out, I would go to the gym by myself. I would run by myself. If I was doing a group sport; volleyball in high school or Outrigger Canoe Paddling in college, I would be with the group because we would be training together. I am comfortable working out by myself, I really enjoy it. A couple of weeks ago, Alex made an analogy between studying for exams and working out. Some people do better studying for an exam in a group setting and some do better studying by themselves. I kind of laughed to myself because I would study by myself for exams; I would go the library or a coffee shop and make note cards to study for my exams.

It was the best way for me to focus. Tests were hard for me and I really had to study the material to make sure that I remembered it all. As I write these sentences, it makes me think of my gymnastic skills in CrossFit. It's been one of the hardest aspects for me to 'study' or learn. I have watched other athletes just nail these movements down, rep after rep like it's no big deal. In order to become more proficient at these movements, I have had to focus a lot of my training on them. There has been a lot of accessory done this past year to get stronger and more fluid so I can improve.

I would go into the gym, day in and day out, practicing certain lifts, breaking down certain movements so that I could perform them correctly. Some times friends would come over and ask, what are you doing? Why do you do that? So I would explain what I was doing. Some would say, that's kind of cool, never thought of that. If it was a movement that they were trying to work on as well, they would say, maybe I'll try that too.

When I think back to these moments, it makes me smile because I like to help others and encourage people to reach their goals. I hope that my friends, acquaintances, members from the gym always feel like they can approach me to ask a question or two.  Or if you want to chat with me and see how things are going, I hope you know that I love to catch up.

I love this sport and I love to work hard. I put my all into everything that I do and grind hard.  I appreciate all of those who have supported me, who have let me do my thing in the gym. It may be different but it has worked for me and can't say thank you enough for those who have believed in me. This is just the beginning. I am enjoying this journey and looking forward to all that is ahead. Staying positive and keeping positive people in my life. A special thank you to everyone who cheers me on and pushes me! Hearing your words of support and love means so much.

~ MCA

Friday, March 29, 2013

Progress...

What can happen in a year? What progress can you make with 365 days? I say a lot. Depending on what you do and how much work you want to put into your goal, you can accomplish a lot if you set your mind to it.

I am thinking of my Alex right now. He is a hard worker. I mean, a very hard worker; he puts his heart and soul into all he does. We will share stories from our lives and we get to learn about more about each other. He has accomplished a lot during his life. He has done so many great things, traveled to many places and has learned so much. I love hearing his stories because it's like an adventure, I get to experience what he went through with his words and vivid descriptions. It brings a smile to my face because there is so much to him as a person and this is just one aspect.

This post was sparked by a conversation Alex and I were having in regards to the open. He has been working very hard these past few months to come back from an injury and huge surgery.

In August 11, 2012, he participated in the Occupy Strength competition at CrossFit OneWorld in Union City. The workouts were testing your max lifts: power clean, back squat, bench press and dead lift. Alex was up to find his max back squat. As he hit his second lift, he felt something pull and snap. At the moment he didn't know what it was but was rushed to the ER. Thank you to our amazing friends Connie and Steve for being there, you are the best!

He had x-rays and an MRI done at the hospital to determine what happened. We then went to the doctor and had an ultra sound to see what it could be. The conclusion was that he had a hernia. We talked about what to do and what would be the best option. He was going to have surgery at the end of August to repair the hernia.

The surgery date arrived and it went well. The doctor said it took longer than anticipated due to the amount of muscle that he had. As I write this post, I remember being there in the hospital with him and feeling good, knowing that it went well. I can imagine that it was rough to go through all that but I would be there for him for anything. I love my Alex and want the best for him.

The next few months were the hardest though; his range of motion was very limited and he couldn't do certain movements because of the surgery. Think about it, your midsection, your core is opened up and then closed back up. Your body is trying to recovery and protect itself. I have never had a surgery like this, so I can't say 'I've been there'. I had surgery on my wrist years ago, but that was my wrist, not even close to your core or midsection.

I admire Alex because he went through something so physically and mentally challenging. Yes, there were up days and down days but we kept going forward. He wasn't able to train for four months! Four months... that's a long time when you are always in the gym, training, working towards your goals. He would try to do movements with the barbell but when it got to a certain weight, he would feel that pulling sensation again and it was hard to keep going. We would research the recovery time for a hernia surgery and there would be different reports, some said weeks, others months. It was hard to gauge how long it was going to take. I believed in him and knew that he would get back to where he was before, but I knew it was going to take awhile, maybe longer than what we wanted.

Near the end of November/beginning of December, he was able to lift more weight, incorporate some movements that were impossible before. A long time had passed, but I know that he would bounce back. We started to train more for the open, but if you think about it, there were only three months to train! That's not a lot of time to get back where you originally were. There were more ups and downs but Alex kept going. I wished I could have taken the surgery away and make the pain and frustration melt away, but it was there and we focused on staying positive.

Alex's heart and dedication to keep going and move forward was amazing, absolutely incredible. He had been taken back so far by this surgery but didn't give up. I am motivated by him to keep pushing and to keep working hard. This surgery tested him mentally, being able to keep going and having faith that he would physically recovery and be able to do lift again. This last open workout, 13.3, was a good measure. Alex did one muscle up last year and this year he did six!! Six muscle ups, and with a shoulder issue! Omg he's amazing, so proud. I smile because he is an astonishing athlete and I love how he keeps working and moving and gives it his best.

I am so so proud of Alex for all he has done! He has accomplished so much in such a small time frame. I look up to him in so many ways. He is a hard worker with a caring and gentle heart. He overcame such a huge obstacle and I know that he can over come any challenge that is placed in front of him. I am so lucky to have met Alex and have crossed paths with him. I am truly blessed and am thankful every day for my Alex.

Thank you babe for showing me so much in the time we have known each other. You are an incredible person, athlete, man and individual. Keep up all your hard work because it is paying off and you are doing amazing things! Here's to your progress, our progress and progress in life!

~ MCA

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Birthdays...

My thoughts were reflecting on my birthday last week and it made me think of how people perceive their birthday and just the process of getting older and growing up.

I wanted to share some cards that were given to me on my birthday... from Alex, my mom, my grandma, roommates, family and friends...










I was surprised with all the birthday wishes that I received, the cards, messages, flowers, cake, wine and posts on Facebook, I was very appreciative of it all. Thank you to everyone who wished me happy birthday, I really appreciate it!

I think the concept of birthdays are neat, you get to celebrate your birth into this world and enjoy the day as you wish. I hear some people complain that they are getting older or that it's just another day. Yes, I agree, you are getting older and it is just another day, but why take a sour attitude to it? Just because it's your birthday doesn't mean you finally do what you have been wanting to do for weeks or months. You should take a hold of each day that you have and do what you want. You may not be able to complete everything that you want to do, but if you accomplish one that you have been itching to do, then that makes it a successful day, right? 

For example, I didn't want to do much for my birthday, one, because I usually make more plans than I should for a day and I usually end up running around verses enjoying my day. Two, I always say that I want to relax and enjoy the evening, then I end up cooking for two hours or going through papers that have accumulated on my side table haha. So, when Alex and I grabbed some food and just relaxed and watched TV, it was very refreshing. 

The other thought is that you are getting older. Well, pardon my french, but no shit. Every year, you and everyone else around you is going to get older. I am assuming that we all know this, yet I still hear or see people complain or whine about how they are getting older and things aren't like they used to be (whatever they may be referencing).

Approach it with a positive attitude or as positive as you can. I actually look forward to the year that comes up. I definitely enjoy each year and yeah I am 28 years old, but I try to make the most of each year and I look forward to what is ahead. Our bodies and minds may change but make a change for the better. I can guarantee that I am healthier and stronger now than when I was 22. I live an active lifestyle and eat healthy/clean for my lifestyle. 

Each person is different, but make a choice to enjoy each year and do what you can to enhance your life. Read a book, learn a language, celebrate each day with your loved ones. When you look back at your life, you want to smile and know that you enjoyed your life and didn't wait for one special day to make the most of it. Celebrate each year with a smile :)

~ MCA

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Encouragement...

The past few days of training were a little hard in the sense that I have been under the weather. It's hard to go 100% when you feel congested and have restricted breathing, but it was not the end of the world, I was still able to do some work while sick.

Alex and I discussed what I could do and decided to do Max's class Saturday morning and just lift, nothing to follow in the morning. Depending on how I felt, maybe try something in the afternoon. I had plans to go support Sandy and some other friends at a competition in Hercules, so after the gym, I traveled out there while Alex slept from coming off his night shift. By the way, Sandy and everyone did amazing, very proud of all the athletes that competed!

At the end of the day, I was beat and my body was telling me that I needed more rest, so I called it day and just rested. We talked about training on Sun and would see how my body felt and we could go from there.

I absolutely love the talks that Alex and I have; I feel as though we are able to connect and share our words with one another. We are able to express our concerns or deep inside thoughts about many things and have meaningful conversations. The support and encouragement that I receive from him, is amazing, I'm so thankful and lucky to have it. More on the encouragement in a little bit.

As Sunday came around, I felt a little better, so I looked at our plan for the day and I gave it my all. Did the yoga class, went for a 3 mile run, strict pressed, did some snatches and muscle ups, rested a little bit and then another met con, diablo crippler. It was a long day but a good day; fighting some of the sickness off, I felt better than Saturday and was able to get some work completed. There was some accessory work to be done, but we decided the plan could be shifted a little bit.

Come Monday, I felt better than Sunday, still a little drained but back at it in the gym. Alex had today off, so we were able to train together.... and I love the days that we can do this, it's so much fun but also motivating. Watching him lift and workout gets me all hyped up. I love cheering him on and supporting him, all day, every day. You should have positive encouragement in your life, in any and all aspects of life.

Monday was a heavier training day, a bench pyramid, power cleans and muscle- ups, some accessory work and then an awesome workout laid out by Alex lol. It was 1k row, tabata pull ups, 500m row, tabata squats and a final 500m row for time. Woah, it was a hard workout, a mental tester for sure.

Alex had just worked out and pushed himself to do a brutal workout with thrusters, double unders and v-ups and this was amazing for me to watch because he just had came off the night shift. I can only imagine what it is like to come off working nights and then try and switch to a day shift. I'm in awe of you Alex and am so proud of you every day. After he finished his workout, he came over and helped me count for my workout. Near the end of the workout, he had some encouraging words to push me to finish strong. He told me things that are important to know. He motivated me to keep pushing, to keep going until the end. Reflecting back on those words and phrases, it makes my drive even stronger. It makes me want to dig even deeper to reach our goal of getting top three at regionals.

Looking back at the days in the gym, some are great, some are good, some are not so good, but we are putting the effort in. We are working towards our goals and making things happen. You have to make it happen. Put in the work and hours that are needed; have the support and motivation of your loved ones around you. You can reach your dreams and goals but you have to work hard for it and fight for it, every step of the way. It is all worth it in the end.

~ MCA

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Strategy and Mangofit...

I believe that it is important to have a plan or program set up to achieve your goals. Whether your goal is to save money, build a house or make it to the CrossFit games, you must have a strategy to ensure you are on a path to meet your goal.

I am thinking of my programming and the journey that Alex and I have been on with this programming. We have sat down numerous times, talked about my goals, his goals, our goals and what we want to achieve. Many emails, texts, videos, photos and articles have been sent back and forth to determine what needs to be worked on, what needs to be improved and so on.

Alex has done an amazing job of laying out a program for me to follow. I know I have written a little bit about this before, in terms of the programming and training and work that is being done. Yes I am the one doing the workouts and the lifting, but how did it get there. It didn't just magically appear in front of my eyes. A lot of hard work and effort went into that programming and Alex did that hard work. It isn't easy to just write a program, there are so many details that go into it and I have realized a lot from sitting and talking with Alex.

We have had conversations that go into details about how to be able to do a certain movement. What is required, how do we get there. Alex has this keen sense of understanding everything in a broad picture and then being able to break it down into steps or sections. He is incredible and it has been an amazing journey with him, thank you Alex! I look forward to more that is ahead, with all aspects of our life.

In regards to my programming, how did I get to where I am at today? I followed a plan, a strategy laid out in front of me. Alex and I talked about things that needed work and what would need to be done in the gym to get there. I worked hard and did what I needed to do to get stronger in areas that I was lacking. I was having a shoulder issue and we decided that we would avoid overhead movements for a while until it got better.

We talked about things that I should incorporate and start doing to strengthen my shoulders and arms. I started doing some movements that he had researched and some that I had found and I considered them my shoulder rehab exercises. I also did things that might not be considered 'CrossFit'... bicep curls, tricep extensions, core work, etc. How did people respond when they saw me doing these? A little bit of laughter, some curiosity, some taunting... hahaha what are you doing?! Tricep extensions? Mangofit exercises...

I would laugh it off and let it slide off my back. It didn't get to me; it didn't bother me or make me feel insecure about what I was doing. I just know that people would say stuff because I was doing something different, I wasn't doing what everyone else was doing.

But I was okay with it because growing up, I wasn't always doing what everyone else was doing. I would be a little different than everyone else. I just didn't want to be another person in class, I wanted to make a difference, a positive impact. Maybe I stood alone sometimes, but oh well, that's what you need to do sometimes. I think back to 7th grade when a guy was getting made fun of in class by a few kids and when I walked into the room I told them to stop and leave him alone because it wasn't nice and they shouldn't make fun of him. I don't think those kids expected an answer like that from me or let alone another person; but they stopped bothering him.

I continued with the plan that Alex had laid out. I had faith in him and faith in the plan and program. If there was something I didn't understand, I would ask to make sure I was on the same page as him. I kept doing my Mangofit, but I was proud of it. I had fun, I was learning and doing new things that I had never done before. As the weeks and months went by, we started to see results; I was slowly getting stronger and better at things that needed improvement.

As I look back from where Alex and I started, there has been huge growth and we have come a long way. I smile as I think of my Mangofit, because it was the foundation that I needed. You have to have a strong foundation first and we worked on building that foundation. It took some time to get strong and have a solid base, but it was all worth it. :)

I am sharing a video that Alex sent to me the other day to show me how far I have come. It was good to see because I remember that day and all the days that we worked on muscle ups. Definitely a good reminder to see how far I have come. I think of all the long hours that Alex has put into the programming, all his dedication, love, hard work and effort... you are amazing Alex and hope you know this! I am very blessed to have an amazing partner and companion in life who supports me. I love that we can experience and live life together. Forever and always.

Remember to always have a plan and stick to it. There may be small bumps that come up, but think of your plan as a river, it takes turns left and right and it may not be a straight line but know that you are working towards your goal. It's always ok to have your own thing.

~ MCA aka Mango




Tuesday, March 5, 2013

All or nothing?

What is your mentality on things? Is something worth it if you put your 100% into it but don't get the results you want or desire? Was it worth it or was it for nothing?

It's been a long time since I have written my thoughts. I have been itching to write, to blog, to share my thoughts with those who are interested in listening.

I think of the life I have gone through; the opportunity that I have had to experience many things, traveling to different places in the world, participating in numerous sports and activities and I look back thinking of the many things that I have experienced. There are so many more things I want to experience but I am happy and grateful for all I have done.

I look back and I see that I put 100% into all that I do. I put everything into my Tae Kwon do classes to achieve my black belt by the time I was 12 years old. I dedicated to classes weekly, starting from the age of 8 years old. Not what the typical 8 year old may be doing but I liked it; it challenged me and it sure gave me some discipline and appreciation to see what a human being is capable of.

I remember the international golf tournament that I did in Australia after graduating high school. I put everything into it, I put my heart and everything into each tournament that we had. I came in on that final 18, turned my score card in and waited to see every one's final round. I looked up at the board and realized that I missed first place by one stroke... one stroke. One stroke. It was heart wrenching; I cried, a lot. My dad was there to tell me that I did a great job, my friends that I had made on this trip said that I did great and gave it my best. That might have been the case, but how do you react when you give it your everything but don't get the result you expect? Was it worth it; was it a waste? It was definitely worth it.

I think back to college, when I had to write papers. One of my hardest and most dreaded things to do was to write a paper. It was so hard, I wanted it to be perfect right off the bat. I wanted to have the best introduction, body and conclusion. I would stare at the paper or computer, getting anxious and nervous that it would not turn out alright or good enough to receive an 'A'. My dad, Roberto, helped me a lot with this. He explained that it may not be perfect right off the bat, but to write and let it flow and from there, I could go back and fix it up later. I learned that I could write the body first, conclusion and then come back to the introduction and lay out the paper from there. It was a hard thing that made me stressed out and frustrated but by the end of my college years, I had turned out numerous papers with an 'A'.

I realized that my stress came from giving it 100% but worried that I wouldn't get the best grade, that I would get an 'A' verses a 'B'. I wanted to get the best grade, I wanted it to be perfect. I was nervous before I even started to write! Looking back on it now, I see that I was putting everything into it, but was hesitate to start because I didn't know if it would get me the 100% or the 'A'. Was it worth it? Hell ya it was. I would have never gotten that experience with writing. I would have missed a great opportunity to learn how to write just because I was nervous or afraid of not getting the best grade.

How does this translate to now or my present? Well, a great example is my training for the CrossFit games. The first workout comes out tomorrow, 13.1, the first workout of the season, the open. I have put, Alex has put, we have put so much into my training, his training, our training, from last year up until now to see it will pay off. I have said before that my goal is to make it to regionals and place top three at the regionals and continue to the games. It is a lofty goal with only two years of CrossFit under my belt but I have been working hard for this; we both have. I want it so bad.

I feel it in my blood and my tears that I shed. I think of it when I am running, when I am working out. How bad do I want it? Real bad.

It's a deep desire to want something and put 100% into it. Is it worth it if I don't make it? It is all or nothing? It is definitely worth it. All the work and effort that I have put in, that Alex has put in, is worth it. Every sweat drip, blood drop, smile, yell that I exert when I am training, is all worth it. I focus on the positive as much as possible; I keep my head up as much as I can. There are some days that are so much harder than others. When I put everything into my training and come up short at the end of the day, was it worth it? Yes it was. Why? Because I am putting 100% into it; I am going for my goals, I am reaching for the stars.

When I do something, I put my heart and soul into it and if I fall short or don't get the goal I was reaching for, I am still learning something and growing. I will pick myself up and keep trying.

So when you go for something, put your all into it. Don't be afraid of your goal; if you don't reach it, you will learn a lesson and become stronger, smarter, more knowledgeable.  Don't do something because you have a fear of maybe not reaching it. You will never know until you try. Think of the people who may never have a chance to go for their goals.

~ MCA

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Competition...

This past weekend DCF had an inner-gym competition on Saturday and if you had a chance to come by and check it out, it was incredible.

There were three teams, the morning/AM crew, the midday crew and the afternoon/PM crew. Each team had a coach or two to take everyone on each team through the workouts and plan. Eleni and I were the coaches for the morning crew and it was an amazing experience.

Looking back on Saturday, I can see everyone's face and emotions, their mind running with so many thoughts... I want to do this workout; wait, can I do that movement? I don't know if I can do that movement, will I get a good score? I can feel the adrenaline running through everyone's body, the energy flowing with all the bodies in one area. People warming up, going through movements to get their bodies and minds prepped for the workouts ahead.

I spoke to many friends and they felt nervous and/or excited since this was the first time taking part in a CrossFit competition. I am in awe of all of this because even though some people had never done anything like this, they were there, in an environment to test themselves and see what they could do. But they were also there to have fun. To make the most of the day and event and enjoy what they love to do, to CrossFit.

As someone who has gone through numerous competitions of all natures, not just CrossFit, I see that there are so many factors and aspects that go into your competition/event. There is so much planning that is needed, especially with a team event with numerous people. Having a plan and a strategy is so important. It is also crucial to know that things may go wrong or not as planned and you have to be able to roll with them and keep going.

I wanted to deliver to my team; I wanted Len and I to be the best coaches for them and give each and every one of them words of support. I wanted to encourage and inspire them, so that deep down, they know they are capable of achieving everything.

There was a moment when we were doing burpees where the plan did not work. The strategy to count the burpees did not pan out and we ended up doing way more work than was needed. At that moment, my heart dropped, my emotions swelled up and over me like a huge tidal wave. A feeling of failure had emerged; I had let them down. The plan that was laid out to count the total reps had not worked and it landed right on top of me. Tears streamed down my cheeks because I did not want to let any one down; I wanted to have everything right for them, so they could move easily from one movement to the next and not worry about other details that the coach, me, was suppose to have figured out.

It was hard to hide the emotions and my tears rolled down my face. As we moved to the final component of the workout, Alex and others on our team reassured me that it was okay and that we are on to the next thing. It was hard to just let go of, but we were here to have fun and enjoy the experience. Thank you to Alex and everyone for believing in me.

I learned so much from this experience. As a coach, as a athlete; what is important - the timing, transitions, counting - it is all crucial. But the main thing to remember is to have fun, be calm and focus. They may seem like three different things, but they are all woven together.

Thank you to Diablo for putting on a great event; thank you to everyone that competed - you all did amazing! To my AM crew - thank you for letting Len and I be your coaches - you are a great group of people that are family and it was an incredible experience with everyone. Thank you to Len for being next me to coach everyone. Thank you to Alex for all your guidance, input, expertise and love - it means the world to me!

I hope you all know how much of an impact you make in my life. I have realized so much this past year and have become more awake and more alive - it is mind blowing to see how you can just go through movements and not really be awake. Be present and make the most of every moment!

~ MCA