As you all know Jacqueline finished up her 2017 season this past week in Madison at the CF Games! I wanted to give a recap as I know many of you who were cheering from home couldn’t see or hear about the action. When she’s back from her much deserved vacation in Tahoe, you’ll get to hear from her at the gym. Be sure to give her a congrats and a warm welcome back to some stress-free training with you all. On that note, I think we’ve really been super lucky to have such an awesome athlete represent the Sweat Shop for the past 3 years. For someone with as much individual aspirations as she has, Jacqueline has embraced the Sweat Shop community to the fullest. She’s always a positive force to the everyday goers at the gym, she shows appreciation to her coaches, and supports her training buddies. Every year at the Games she repeatedly says how she only wants to “make coach and the Sweat Shop proud”.
This year’s Games, as opposed to the previous two for Jacqueline, was the toughest. She was physically prepared the best I’ve seen in her CrossFit elements. She improved a ton in her weaker areas leading up until the Games, and it showed with a top 6 finish in the open and masters qualifier. Her gymnastics improved drastically being able to link multiple ring and bar muscle ups, move competitively through c2b pullups, and her mile time dropped :30 seconds. Most important in my eyes, she improved in her ability to manage painful workouts with proper pacing and strategy.
With that being said, CF will always expose a weak link. I’m sure you all know about Jacqueline and her fear of swimming and when the first workout was announced as a lake swim, she and I were a little crushed. For one, Jacqueline has a deep fear of it and now had to do it, and two, I felt like I failed her by not preparing for it aggressively in training. She worked so hard this year on everything else but this ONE! We both hoped that, just like previous years, they would let the masters slide. Welp, not this year….LESSON LEARNED. So from jump, we knew this year would be a survive “Hunger” Games. But survive she did. While she took dead last and earned zero points for the workout, I can’t express the amount of pride I had screaming my lungs out cheering for her as she refused to quit and get in the boat where another master was just watching her. The fact that she sucked it up and went out there, after not being able to do it even in shallow water, as well as 2 women quitting right before she jumped in, was a huge accomplishment and was so happy to actually see her out there. She faced her fear head on and stayed out there until being capped.
After the adrenaline settled and knew she’d be able to continue competing, she was pretty bummed about being “out” of the running to win it. She’s that type of competitor that doesn’t just like participation points and wants to be competitive in every aspect, so taking a zero irritated her a bit. I understood completely as I am the same. But rather than mope around and let it affect the rest of her weekend, she changed her focus to attack and beat as many of her competitors in every event and to place as high as she could with a 40+ point deficit.
She bounced back with a 7th place finish in the pullup/t2b/clean and jerk workout and planned it perfectly. She finished seconds behind last year’s winner who has a very strong gymnastic skill set. She managed her reps in the beginning and kicked on the final set of clean and jerks. She finished 10th on the DU/DB snatch workout. She finished in the top 5 smashing a 202# 2-rep front squat taking 4th, and in the final event “Diane”, she went unbroken on all handstand pushups and finished the event under an aggressive 4-minute time cap taking 4th! This was not only an impressive time in competition, it was better than several male and female competitors in the younger age divisions!
With all this being said, I think the biggest lesson learned this year’s Games is to stay humble. Respect and appreciate ALL possible skills and never settle on being just “good enough” at something. While Jacqueline could have used the swim as her excuse all weekend, she acknowledged mistakes in other areas and where she could have done better. What I loved as a coach was meeting her in the athlete area to talk about the event and before she could let me tell her “good job”, she’d point out where she could’ve improved. I loved hearing her coach herself and what she learned about pacing and strategy from each event. There were mishaps on things that she felt comfortable with like double unders and nailing the O-course in the warmup. The lesson here is to alter the perception of actually “having” something and acknowledge how the competitive environment changes things. Work to be so good at them that you wont have any doubt in your mind on the competition floor.
I read a legit quote that sums it up perfectly. Hemingway said, “we are all apprentices in a craft in which no one becomes a master”.
I think this resonates well as an athlete and a coach. We never become “master” athletes or coaches, we are constantly learning to get better. I think the best will always keep trying to learn. The moment it seems like the you’ve done it all, go do an Open water swim, or the moment you’ve just got something down, now do it with 5,000 people watching or do it while tired. “Sit down, be humble”. Keep ego aside. Always look for ways to get better and never settle for minimum work requirements. As a coach, don’t just coach at the athlete, coach with the athlete. A memory I’ll carry with me from these games, beyond seeing Jacqueline fight and crush it all weekend, was getting to know and spend time with the other coaches, some I’d seen from previous years and some new ones. It was refreshing to see how invested, mentally, each of the coaches were with their athletes. We’d talk about the long grueling year and how you can go from pumped, stressed, angry, and proud all year, but at the end, seeing them go for it is worth it all. I’ll never forget after the swim a handful of us coaches hi-fiving each other in relief that the swim was over!
Anyways, I could go on and on, but let’s end it with a huge congrats to Jacqueline on being the 15th Fittest 50-54-year-old in the world this year! Super proud of you!