What goes up... must come down.
The grins on our faces, stood at the top of that podium says it all. We fought our absolute hardest to get that spot... the littlest team by miles, we didn't have much advantage with a 1 rep max clean & jerk and a 1 rep max snatch being the first event! But we did it...
The enjoyment of this win however was short lived... soon to be wiped out by the massacre that was The European Championships Qualifier 17.1
It makes me sad that it took so much away from this happy little moment below...
17.1... the plans
For those of you that didn’t watch it at CrossFit Colchester or Live on Facebook... it wasn't the nicest of workouts to witness.
When Carl (my boss) first asked me if I would be willing to go head to head against a top U.K. athlete for the launch of The European Championships Qualifiers LIVE on Facebook I was speechless… I was equal parts terrified and excited. This was secondary only to the fear I felt when he told me I would be going against bloody Charlie 'Lotte’ Spence! For those of you who don’t know… Charlotte Spence is a household name in CrossFit. She is a bloody incredible athlete and a girl who I have near enough idolised for the past 2 years... 3rd in the 2017 U.K. Open rankings... and only 3rd to bloody Sam Briggs and Emma McQuaid... 😱 like... what an opportunity.
I believe if something scares you that much, but also excites you... you should ABSOLUTELY 100% do it!
I agreed to be a part of it… joking that this was like in 'The Open' when they get a really new athlete to go up against an established Games athlete to show how ‘inclusive’ CrossFit is... We all laughed A LOT and the plans were set.
After a day of competing in Middlesborough on Saturday, we were in a terrible way. I was super sore. I have been rehabbing an injury to my back this year and told by my physiotherapist to consider cancelling all my plans of competing until next year. But I rehabbed it hard and did everything I could to fix it - I made a brilliant recovery, and both my coach and physio were really impressed.
My little body had done so well… but I felt like I had been hit by a train. We had a 7 hour drive back home; I slept as much I could… but as the drive went on we started to get more and more stiff.
In hindsight I should have been sensible and stepped down, but I didn't…
And I didn’t step down because I didn’t want to...
I wasn’t held at gunpoint, my job wasn’t under threat… I wasn’t bribed. I wanted to see if I had it in me to do this... to be brave enough to put myself out there. I could hear my ex’s voice in my head “If you always say you’re not ready, you never will be… don’t be afraid if failure, it isn’t failure but an opportunity to learn!” He was always pretty good at that motivational talk…
also didn’t want to bail on my boss or let my gym and coach down. I wanted to represent them. I wanted to make them proud.
Is that so wrong...?
Warming up, I felt ...'ok' I suppose. As we were building up weight on the bar, after the workout was announced I felt relatively confident. I felt extremely fatigued but I was hungry for a fight.
I didn’t anticipate what was to come.
Long story short... it didn't go as I had planned.
Entering the 3rd round... as I began that first pull on the barbell, when cleaning it up into my front squats, my back blew.
I felt it ping hard.
Oh hello old friend... It was my QL again… I felt it fire... I felt it 'wake up' (as I'd say) and BOY did it wake up!
In previous months it has fired when I have been a the top of the rig; poor Carl had to help lift me down - when I was in full spasm! It has happened on the physio's table and it’s happened mid burpee. I have learnt to manage my brains reaction the spasm well; a lot of mindfulness work where we try to minimise the aftershocks… but shit son. I've never known pain like it… in any normal scenario I’d have dumped that bar and stopped immediately; but I was live on film.
I didn't want to feel an even deeper shame.
My mum was watching, my dad was watching, my coach, my peers, my sponsors, my competition, my friends, my haters (hi by the way 👋🏼👋🏼) my clients, my boss were all watching... along with 500+ other people... I couldn't not finish the workout.
I howled in pain as a 'normally easy' 60kg deadlift tore through my back and sent resonating nerve pain down through my legs and up through my head. My hearing went cloudy and everything and everyone was suddenly under water.
Tears falling out my eyes, I looked at Josh Al-chamaa (my friend and judge) and he calmly uttered, "only do what you know you can do...” Good god I am so glad it was him next to me and no one else, Josh has this unfaltering air of calm about him that seems to wave over you no matter what. I told him I couldn’t see, I begged him to make it stop and disappear somehow but it didn’t.
So much of me didn't want to stop the workout but if my coach or boss had pulled me out... I'd have been so unbelievably relieved.
Desperately clinging onto any ounce of composure but feeling like my dignity was already on the floor - I fought like I had nothing else to lose. I bit my lip and ripped that bar back off the ground again... rep by rep... Finally flipping myself upside down again for the last set of HSPU, I was already planning my escape from the room.
All eyes were on me and I was mortified.
I felt exposed, I felt vulnerable and I felt ashamed. I wanted to disappear. My body and my mind were broken. I staggered out the gym to hide in boardroom, and when out the vision of anyone else I cried.
My poor coach hugged the sweatiest and inconsolable me in an attempt to comfort me, but I cried... and I cried... and I cried.
I went into a very deep depressive hole that night. I am infinitely grateful to the people who kept an eye on me. Thank you Lucy, thank you Charlie, thank you Sherree, thank you mum and thank you Chris.
I realise now that I was not well.
My central nervous system was absolutely shot to pieces... I was emotionally and physically exhausted. A full weeks training including the CrossFit Games Team Series, a whole day of competition on Saturday with 5 other workouts... a really long drive and then this... not just a qualifier but the live feed pressure too... fuck me Emelye. Slow down.
This whole year, these last few months especially... I've been trying to do too much. And my body finally said 'no'. It has whispered to me to slow down on countless occasions, but then it had to shout cause I wasn’t listening. But... when you want something so badly and have given up so much to be there… are you going to be willing to just ‘stop’ or ‘slow down’. No mate.
I gave up a well paid job in an internationally successful company, turning down a huge promotion and future opportunity, left my gorgeous family, my brilliant loving boyfriend, all my security and friends, my own home CrossFit gym (where it all began) and coach for the chance to be a better athlete.
I want, more than anything else in the world... to be an athlete... a top athlete. It consumes my every waking thought.
I have sacrificed so much to be here and live on a shoestring to try and make it work. If something doesn’t have a positive effect on my goal of becoming a better athlete, then it simply doesn’t happen.
Others around me have also given so much for my development... I am not unaware of that. I will always be grateful of that.
But - when suddenly all the pushing and giving and taking goes too far, what do you do? You have to slow down. Sometimes you have to learn the hard way.
A Moment to Reflect...
Sunday was by no means a failure!
Oh my life!! I have learnt so so much. It was a chance to grow as an athlete – regardless of the ‘extra’ circumstances.
But do you know what else I have learnt? I have learnt how much people care. The support I have received has been phenomenal and extremely humbling. I have learnt that actually - to see me suffer was just what some people needed. I feel like they needed to know that as coaches we too struggle. Of course we do… we go and we compete! But this is seldom witnessed by the masses.
This was very public, and close to the line.
If I had the chance to do it again, I probably would. But not in the physical state I was… it was foolish and actually dangerous. I am ashamed I set that example and hope that we can all learn from it and move on. On which note… 17.1 re-do… I am coming for you.
Watch this space...