Athletics, Motherhood and Other SuperFantastic Subjects

“My Mommy’s an Athlete”

I left this past weekend’s North Central Regional mostly feeling gratitude and motivation. Some really amazing things occurred, and being completely serious the biggest rewards did not come in the form of first place finishes or event records.

As far as the competition goes, it was an experience like no other. I could feel something was different in the week leading up to the competition. I’m so used to having (or coming up with) something to worry about that it felt strange to not be worrying. So Thursday night before things kicked off, to occupy my thoughts and get motivated I started watching Michael Jordan videos online. I stumbled upon his Basketball Hall of Fame induction speech, where he talks about all the experiences in his life that added logs to his competitive fire, as he puts it. Little did I know this speech and thoughts of Jordan’s mentality would occupy my mind throughout the weekend.

After day one of competition I had won two of three workouts and found myself in third place, just a point or two out of fourth. Fourth place girls don’t go to the Games. The workout that jeopardized my postion was 30 burpee muscle ups for time, with a 7 minute cap. I’m not going to go into the details, but the minute that airhorn sounded ending the workout I knew I had underperformed. I was pissed. What’s important for me here, and what makes me feel like the things I’ve been doing over the last 10 months have been effective, is that not for one second did I feel down or defeated. Last year, even while winning events at the Games I would be in my own head beating myself up. I can be very hard on myself, and I think that’s ok if it’s applied in a productive, positive manner. Walking away from the event floor I felt nothing negative at all, I felt like I was being given the opportunity to be a fighter. I asked myself what would Jordan do if he was down, cut from a team, not selected for an honor? He would proceed forward with nothing but utter confidence and belief in his talent, his training and his abilities. Looking at the leaderboard felt like a sort of taunting. Think about it, by the end of day two, in five workouts I had earned four first place finishes, two top world times and a second best time in the world. Yet the leaderboard said I was a third place athlete. I wanted to stomp the hell out of that leaderboard. Finishing less than first was unacceptable because I knew what I was capable of. Though I won the overall event, I made my share of errors, had my share of failures, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Those failures add fuel to the fire. I feel the entire event unfolded just as it needed to, to prepare me to move onto the next phase. I’m excited to spend the next few months with laser focus on my preparations. I couldn’t be more in love with my sport, and I hope to see more amazing programming at the Games that will push us to our limits. After two and a half years I’m finally coming into my own as a CrossFitter- no longer just a raw athlete, but as a specialist in this sport. Being good at this sport is an artform, and I want to make something beautiful.976601_10151598949865270_1175598923_o

The most amazing part of the weekend was all the people who played a role in it. I can’t say enough about the event organizers, judges, and team, as well as the incredible spectators. You all made this event a blast. I relied heavily on my sister’s positive energy and encouragement from long distance. My mother was able to come to town to be with me. This allowed my son to attend on Sunday, his first time seeing a CrossFit competition. It was wonderful and emotional for me to have him there. (He was overheard at school on Monday saying, “my mommy’s an athlete. She broke two records.” Ha!). I had the amazing support system of friends, my CrossFit Construct team and community, especially Derek Freiberg. Competing side by side (and sharing an air mattress) with my training parter Jessica Schulz was fantastic. I had the physical support of massage therapists Bobby Clark and Michael Harling, as well as my sponsor from Chicago Chiropractic & Sports Medicine, Dr. Sunil Pullukat. I’m so thrilled that Muscle Driver USA, a company/group of people who treat me like family, was in the house offering support, enthusiasm and documenting the weekend through photos and video. Thank you, I am so grateful and honored to be a part of Team MDUSA. Rudy Nielsen of The Outlaw Way, thank you for all the times you have believed in me more than I believe in myself. I’m finally catching up to you, let’s do the damn thing.976422_10151600475910270_416511675_o

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14 responses

  1. Maria

    Love this. You rocked, Elisabeth. I’m working towards being half the athlete you are…

    June 5, 2013 at 4:08 pm

  2. stephen

    Keep it movin’ my sista! Two years ago I told guys at a local crossfit gym that you will wind up being the best female crossfitter and they laughed at me.Guess who’s laughing and talking sh…. now !Because of you ,young black women will seriously consider crossfit.

    June 5, 2013 at 8:06 pm

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  4. Funke

    Way to go! I knew you would be awesome! Looking forward to watching you at The Games!

    June 6, 2013 at 4:32 pm

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  7. You have to admit, there were parts of Michael Jordan’s speech that were downright funny (especially the part where he invited and called out the guy that beat him out for a spot on the basketball team just to make a point that his coach made a big mistake…EPIC!).

    But on a more serious note, we all go through our tests in life. Those moments where we have to choose what direction we’re going in and what our reaction will be to the obstacles at hand. You can choose to shrivel up like a prune or buck up and rise to the occasion. But like you said, there is that fine line between using obstacles as positive motivation and having those same obstacles cause you to beat yourself up and have negative impact. From the looks of your Regionals, you chose the positive side! :-)

    Keep doing what you do Mrs. Akinwale. You’re a great writer and I look forward to reading each of your posts as they become available. You are truly an inspiration.

    June 7, 2013 at 3:05 pm

  8. this is Thuj ( pronounced THUY ) and im a college football player. ive only recently learned about you but im accited that there is still something for brown people to excel at that’s new and somthing out there for athletes who want to take on every challenge the body should try. when football is over in the next 4 – 15 years, im coming for crossfits ass.

    June 18, 2013 at 11:57 pm

  9. i loved watching you at Regionals (via the CF website, which i stalked every weekend that month) and am rooting for you at the Game this week – be fierce and rock it!!

    July 22, 2013 at 6:29 pm

  10. Elisabeth, you don’t know how much you inspired me when I saw you in a video of this year’s north central regionals. It was the first Crossfit event I’d ever watched, and I was just searching YouTube for fitness motivation. The event was the hundreds, and watching you was like poetry in motion. The way you were killing the barbell lifts…I was so inspired. I’ve been obese for most of my life, and one of my life aspirations is to become fit and healthy as a lifelong lifestyle. Not just for appearance sake, but also to avoid many of the diseases and difficulties that come along with being fat., and to experience true health and vitality. I know I’m nowhere near your level, but watching you makes me believe I can be. Your humility, grace, and performance ability are amazing. I was rooting for you during the games, though I couldn’t physically be there. I’m so grateful to have come across that YouTube video. :)

    August 11, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    • Thanks for your comment Tiffany, and also sharing your thoughts on the race blog. You seem like you have an incredibly healthy outlook on the weight loss issue. I wish you the very best!

      August 18, 2013 at 2:54 pm

      • Thanks so much Elisabeth! That means a lot.

        August 18, 2013 at 5:27 pm

  11. の新作

    August 16, 2013 at 8:35 pm

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