Practicing for the test

There’s learning and then there’s test preparation. Two different things. One is general, the other specific.
I’ve never been that good at taking tests, to be honest. Not like my genius brother at least, who scores in the 99th percentile on standardised tests. But then again, it’s not really fair to compare yourself to an outlier. I’ve always been better at common sense, at least when I’m paying attention.
So a CrossFit competition is a sort of a test. What I like about it is that it kind of forces me out of my comfort zone as I discovered at Fittest in Cape Town. 95% effort is not good enough. Yes, you go out too hard, you redline, you die … but you know, you do know what is too hard and what is not. At least, you do at sea level.
There comes this time of year when the folks at CrossFit HQ, aka the cult Mothership, announce the Regional workouts. They are standardised for the whole world, so they are announced a bit in advance of the first competition. There are a bunch of different regions and the regional competitions are held over four weeks.
Long story short, they recently announced the Regional workouts and since then, most of our training has been preparing for this competition. It seemed like it was longer last year, and maybe it was …. Or maybe I was just stressing over that 32kg dumbbell to the point of near obsession.
This year I’m much more chilled, which is weird because I’m competing individually which is more strenuous physically and probably emotionally, too. Depends on how your teamwork is, but last year I was very close to at least two of the three boys on my team and I felt the emotional support and also stress of having to deliver my part for the team.
Anyway, suffice to say I’m already sick of chest-to-bar pullups, and as much as I enjoy competing and the whole song & dance that goes along with it, in a way I’m looking forward to it being over. When practicing burpee muscle ups this week I did three then on the fourth my right shoulder collapsed and I very nearly fell out of the rings forward. Not even sure what happened but it was scary.
The production quality they are bringing to Regionals actually does make me feel like what I got accused of being a few months back, namely a semi-pro athlete. That’s all well and good, and I’m a lot healthier than I was going into Regionals last year. And yet, I know what would do me best is about two weeks of strict rest and rehab on my shoulder. Rest is part of the programme, too.
I must admit to feeling a bit disorganised in the head this last week. I blame my laptop. It’s hard when you live most of your correspondence life in email, and all of a sudden your emails aren’t where you want them, and half your files are only in the cloud because it takes days for everything to download. The cloud is great when you can get to it, but when you can’t it’s quite frustrating.
Starting to feel like I’m really on to something, though, and just needing to tick some things off the list, put them behind me, and stop wondering if my big crazy ideas are going to work and start trying them out. If you’re going to think, may as well think big.
It’s like that Steve Prefontaine quote that I love so much: ‘The only good pace is a suicide pace, and today’s a good day to die.’
Speaking of thinking big, I had the pleasure of spending much of Sunday with my friend Riaan, who runs a company that is on to some big things. And we had the pleasure of an amazing paleo lunch in about five different colours, many flavours of coconut, and lots of coffee. But what I enjoyed the most was getting in on the strategy and getting to contribute my thoughts to it (one or two of which were apparently quite well taken).
Of all my loves, strategy is probably the biggest one, followed closely by business development. Mostly because these are the ones where you need to be able to see the pieces in the puzzle. I can fall out of bed almost and put together a decent operations plan, so easy to me means not very challenging means not very interesting.
Business development on the other hand requires an ability to think on the fly and figure out quickly whether or not something is going to work in practice or not.
OK, the ones that might work are mights. That’s what makes it fun. But the ones that won’t work, those I can see from a mile away.
As I was saying last night after dinner, the innovation isn’t always the what, it’s the go to market approach (aka the how).
Not unlike the strategy of how to attack a workout like one with 100 chest-to-bar pullups. It’s not all about beautiful gymnastics or brute strength or pushing through pain. I’m still trying to figure out the demon that makes me compete. Maybe when I figure it out is when I can retire from my competitive career.
Not that I’m in any hurry. At least when it comes to that.
  • “It’s that very thing that will make your company successful.” – Riaan
  • “Come on, Ellie. You know you want to work for us.” – … doesn’t that sound like a cult?
  • “This is all coming together nicely.” – Rudolph
  • “You teach me how to open my hip and I WILL clean 90!” – Ellie
  • “If you think that hurts your arms wait until you’re lunging with an axle in the front rack.” – Chris
  • “He answered an email? He must really want to come to Cape Town.” – Ellie
  • “Leave no gaps.” – Lance
  • “Business is all about dealing with disgruntled people.” – Doug
  • “The first thing to do is plug it in and hope it doesn’t catch on fire.” – Craig
  • “If it spins up it should be fine.” – Craig
  • “Yeah, your drive really is f*cked hey.” – Craig
  • “That’s overuse.” – Bryony
  • “Support? What support?” – Matt
  • “If a computer could have a Freudian slip it would be that.” – Ellie
  • “We could just harpoon people as they walk by.” – Claudia
  • “To tell the truth … no, it’s not.” – Shirfu
  • “Yes. I can tell.” – Kim
  • “Oh really? Well that completely changes the situation. That means we have the power.” – Ellie
  • “He said the meeting went really well. But I haven’t spoken to him.” – Doug
  • “I mean it’s not like hitting a moose. But you don’t want to hit a porcupine.” – Ellie
  • “And it wouldn’t even feel good!” – Kara 

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