Fittest in Cape Town 2013

I learned something this weekend. Anyone is beatable.  Any given Sunday, right?

So the weekend started out, as it does, with the work day Friday. I had my sales candidates in to interview with Rudolph and Bronwyn, and we had a clear winner. Super excited; the guy is going to be a rock star. Took Helen out to lunch at Starlings, and then came back for a meeting with an AV company that’s a partner of ours.
Then I went out on a tech support call to a holiday apartment in Clifton. Because that’s what one does on a Friday night when one has to register at Camps Bay High School anyway. Living the dream, man. But, one of those moments I’ll never forget is standing in the foyer calling through to my new sales guy, and offering him his first job. Not the first time I’ve made someone a job offer, but the first time I’ve done so in South Africa.
I’m excited not only because I like him as a person, and his skills, or because the other team members were unanimously enthusiastic, but because he really wants to work at Skyrove: he likes tech, he wants to work for a small company, and when I was talking to his reference about how he is and how best to manage him, the guy might as well have been describing a younger version of me. Except one who figured out sooner that he was a salesman.  
Anyway. After arriving home I went for a slow jog around the neighbourhood, then inside to stretch and foam roll. I kept having to tamp my pace down; I felt like a race horse that was being held back.
The next morning I woke up bright and early, calmed my nerves with some qigong, and made my way to Camps Bay High School for day 1 of the Fittest in Cape Town competition. This competition is done as I think all CrossFit competitions should be, and the events are not announced ahead of time, at least not on the individual side, where I was competing.
People will always bitch and moan. A lot of people whined about the programming in the competition. I must say; I thought it was great. Definitely an all-around test of fitness. The first event was a 2 rep max deadlift, the fourth event was a 6.6km road race up a hill and back down, spiced up with a handstand walk, an agility event, and an event I should have rocked with running & burpees. The final event was a bruiser of a mental game, with front squats coming up after kettlebell overhead squats and a messy encounter with sled pushes & pulls.
At the end of the day I was disappointed in my performance and final placing. I kind of lost concentration on an agility event and forgot to go fast (!), didn’t push hard enough on an event I should have won, misunderstood the briefing as to how the handstand walk was going to be measured (I’m actually quite bitter about that but have only myself to blame), and I obviously need to work on my range of motion on pistols.
So these minor competitions are mainly learning experiences. I learned from Regionals not to go to Caprice afterwards, especially if one is not drinking and others are. Ha. So I avoided threatening to punch anyone this time around by avoiding the situation entirely.
What did I learn? Other than that anyone is beatable, including myself? It’s true, we don’t have any Annie Thorisdottirs or Kris Clevers in our field. Well, I was just saying the other day how I compete better than I train, and a whole other Ellie comes out in competition. Well … apparently not always. I have never finished this low in a competition, actually any sort of competition, ever in my adult life, where I’ve ever seriously competed at it (I was seventh at the end).
Why did she not appear? A few reasons. I was distracted. I was intimidated. Fundamentally, I didn’t commit. Won’t make that mistake again. You know, something inside me snapped before Regionals last year. I think it just snapped again. Sometimes you need to be humbled a bit, and I’m certainly not going to get anywhere this way. Beatrix was right: you compete like you train.
Secondly, I learned that there is a circumstance in which I do completely lose my cool. I am sick and tired of people whining about judges calling them for no reps. If the judge wants you to exaggerate the hip opening at the top of a burpee or have your feet together for a handstand pushup, then don’t whine about it, just do what the judge says. Don’t waste time arguing in competition about whether or not you think the judge is right. I mean, honestly, you can’t see your own range of motion, which is why there are judges, and yes, you can wish that everyone was held to the same standards but this is part of the sport, you really can’t take it personally.
What made me lose my cool was I had one judge on one side saying good rep and head judge on the other saying no rep. You can’t have two judges. I would say, if a head judge wants to take over judging from an individual athlete’s judge then he or she should do just that, but make it clear to both the athlete and the judge that this is what’s going on.
Separately, time to get out the video camera and work on my pistols. Clearly my perception of what constitutes hip crease below knee is not beyond a reasonable doubt, so, fix that up before it actually matters for anything.
Really, I’m just bummed that I didn’t make it to the final because that combo of events was just the sort of thing where you see what sort of heart you really have in you, when it starts to hurt and THAT is where the competition Ellie does come out. I was really upset that I didn’t get a chance to meet her this time around. In all fairness, the ladies that made it that far were the ones who deserved it on this weekend.
Every cloud has a silver lining though and this one had a few. Firstly, by not doing the last event my body wa fine to resume training sooner than normal after such a competition. Secondly, my ankle, which hadn’t allowed me to squat as recently as Thursday, took the pounding of a massive downhill like an absolute champ. Third, I am getting much better at walking on my hands. Fourth, I learned that it is quite fun to compete as an individual. Fifth, that I missed competing on a team.
It was a whole weekend where I barely thought about Skyrove at all. Then I got back to work on Monday morning with my body a bit sore and my mind tired. It took me until the evening dinner with Doug & Michael to get my head fully back in the game. Then again, you start talking loyalty, ethics, and shareholder politics and that’ll wake anyone out of a slumber. But even the normal Monday was good: we started down some good paths with our data & analysis team, mapped out a new IVR call flow, and documented our sales process including identifying some gaps in the process. All good stuff.
I always thought that I was better at operations than I would be at sales. I am now actually finding out that the reverse may in fact be the case. I felt it when I was calling through to a woman who had applied for a bookkeeper role to tell her that she wasn’t a good fit but I wanted to consider her for sales, and I launched into this whole long semi-tirade about how awesome sales is if you’re not trying to do the unethical hard sell of something someone doesn’t want.
I must say I was also laughing at myself a bit. I pride myself on being level-headed, especially under stress. So I was at dinner seeing  one guy getting all riled up over something unethical, and another guy getting upset over being treated poorly (disrespectfully).
I was laughing to myself that what has made me the most upset in the past six months is a handstand walk and pistols! I said on Twitter that I was disappointed but not upset. That was a total lie.
But we know this: there are two things that do make me upset. Perceived injustice, and disrespect. I suppose why I don’t get upset over something like an unethical act (that didn’t really do any damage at the end of the day) was back to Michael’s wonderful comment a few months back: It’s not are you upset, it’s are you surprised.

  • “The best carrot is carrot cake.”- Ellie
  • “The tea lady fainted and the cemetery’s on fire.” – Rodney
  • “Let’s not kid ourselves. It’s going to be dreadful.” – Pierre
  • “You only liked that because you like burpees!” – Lloyd
  • “You look perfect. And you look conditioned. You’ll do great.” – some guy from the road race [who obviously didn’t realise CrossFit isn’t a beauty pageant]
  • “He may be pretty … but he may not be very smart.” – Ellie
  • “Oh, never mind then. Your solution is a good one.” “That’s why I did it.” – Ellie & Tim
  • “Yeah, I hated them too! Then I met them.” – Ellie 
  • Emotions lead to bad decisions.” – Michael
  • It doesn’t have to be that way.” – Michael

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