"Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone."

I’ve never realized how amazing mountains are. I’ve looked at their peaks from airplanes, marveled at stories of people climbing them, and was even somewhat traumatized by one after completing the 2012 CrossFit Games triathlon. This weekend I participated in the CrossFit Affiliate Summit in Big Sky Montana and for the first time I really felt the impact of being in the presence of a mountain. I was only in town for little more than 36 hours but somehow the experience came just at the right time, in the right environment, to make a profound impact.20130818-200017.jpg

Being in nature really seems to bring a sense of connectedness to something greater than yourself. Living in the middle of the city and dealing with the hustle and bustle, I feel like I lost that sense of connection. The beaches of Lake Michigan are nice, but in my opinion being near the ocean, and now I’ve found the mountains, is on another level. I was sort of spinning in my own little world and was blessed enough to have this day and a half to stop the spinning. Of course my return flight got me back home at 1:00am and I sat in bumper to bumper traffic for an hour, but too late Chicago traffic, the mountains of Montana put a smile on my face even you can’t erase!

Being at this event really made me reflect on all the wonderful opportunities I have in my life, specifically as an athlete over the past year. As in prior years since becoming a CrossFit competitor in 2011, this sport has afforded me the opportunity to meet tons of amazing and interesting people- fellow competitors, coaches, CrossFit Headquarters staff, spectators, gym mates, etc. It really is a remarkable community we are part of. I also really enjoy connecting with people who aren’t directly involved in CrossFit, but who see what we do and appreciate it.

Outside of the significant support of family and friends, this past season was a phenomenal joy and opportunity for me largely because of the generosity of resources, and belief in me that was demonstrated by some specific people.

I want to acknowledge my gym owner, Derek Freiberg of CrossFit Construct, who welcomed me to his gym in 2011 and has done nothing but offer unconditional support, and assistance with my training. Derek has also been responsible for my supplementation regiment. Derek, along with all the folks at my gym, probably don’t realize what a huge role they play in me being competitive at the Games each year. I train alone a fair amount and just having that supportive person, or sharing the gym with a class and feeling their energy makes all the difference in the world to me. I love this gym!

When I’m not at Construct, I often train with my training partner Jessica Schulz at my second gym home CrossFit Rise. I would not have made it through the year without this woman, who doubles as my therapist, and also little Maddog who generously gives me my baby fix. There’s nothing better then having such a dedicated and driven training partner who’s also a mommy. If I can get some of her mental toughness in me then maybe I’ll be working with something.

2013 Regional, Deadlift/Box Jump, when Jess was inexplicably asked to go back and repeat a deadlift
2013 Regional, Deadlift/Box Jump, when Jess was inexplicably asked to go back and repeat a deadlift
2013 Regional, side by side lanes for most of the weekend
2013 Regional, side by side lanes for most of the weekend

My chiropractor, who’s much more than I ever thought a chiropractor could be, Dr. Sunil Pullukat. I had some physical things going on this year that I’m 100% sure I wouldn’t have made it through the competition season without Sunil’s expertise and dedication.

This season saw the development of a new relationship when I became a member of Team MDUSA. What a blessing it’s been. I’ve written before about Muscle Driver and the amazing company that it is. The support and opportunity I’ve been afforded, not only as an athlete but as a professional, a person, and a mother, has been second to none. I’m so honored to be part of a hard working, creative, open minded, and inspiring group of people. I’m really excited for the growth and development the next year will hold, and thankful for the opportunities MDUSA has provided me.

My coach Rudy Nielsen has lived all the highs and lows of the past year and a half of training and competition along with me and I’m incredibly grateful for him. Every ounce of dedication and commitment I have for this sport is matched (or exceeded) by him. No one else could push me, motivate me or check my neuroses but you.20130818-200205.jpg

A heartfelt thank you to all of you for being such integral parts of this ongoing journey. I’m so excited to take on the next year and continue to grow what we’ve started.

“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” JFK

Author: Elisabeth Akinwale

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  • This is a wonderful sentiment. Too many times in “individual sports”, people forget that it still requires a team to prepare the athlete for competition. I coached high school track and field for 6 years, and we stressed to our young ladies the importance of the team. Being supportive, pushing their teammates in positive ways, and recognizing when a fellow athlete needed someone to lean on. I have watched a bit of crossfit, strictly because of my interest in the strength exercises. I am in awe of all of you and your ability, no matter how insane it is, to push your bodies to their limit. I am especially impressed by you, because you are doing all of this as a mother. It speaks to your commitment, but also your ability to expose your child to the rigors of dedication and hard work. Elisabeth, I will continue to support all of the wonderful things you bring to the table as an athlete and competitor. I hope that you continue in this year and beyond, to garner more notoriety for what you are bringing to the table as a woman, a woman of color, and as an athlete. All of our young ladies should use you as a model personal and athletic excellence.

  • Great story as always Elisabeth. You are my favorite Cross Fit competitor. A shining example to anyone striving for excellence. May God continue to bless you on all your athletic endeavors.

  • Elisabeth, meeting you this weekend in Big Sky was a highlight for my daughter and I. My friend Lena is your biggest fan and told me I had to meet you if I had the chance….after witnessing your power and humble presence I knew why she loves you so much! You inspire me to be better. You are a beautiful, strong and amazing athlete and I agree with you….this was a special weekend in the gorgeous mountains of MT and I feel blessed to have shared it with so many awesome people in the Crossfit community. Thank you for being here!!!

  • Elisabeth, my niece and I met you in DC at the conclusion of CF for Hope. At the time I had no idea who you were or what you had physically accomplished. I just knew that I saw a woman of color who had an amazing performance, a perfectly defined pysique who was humble and friendly. It was quite a treat to not only meet you but also have an opportunity to talk with you. When I got home I researched you online only to find out that I had met a champion. I am excited and motivated by the work you put in as well as by the many accomplishments I seen you achieve at CF Games past and present. I also enjoy reading all of your blogs and watching your YouTube videos, picking up tips and techniques for my own performance. If your “strong woman” shirts are still available I would love to purchase a few, as it would serve as a reminder to me that I too can push myself to new levels like you! 🙂

    Thank you for what you do but most of all for having a champions attitude.

  • Thank YOU, Elizabeth, for taking the time to put these thoughts and feelings into words.
    You are a model to follow, quite some inspiration.
    Please, keep writing.

  • So glad that you were able to get away for a short while, Elisabeth! You earned a little R&R in a beautiful place! I am equally thankful to you for being my training partner and friend. Thank you for all of your hours spent battling Chicago traffic to train with me and thank you for introducing me to The Outlaw Way. So proud of what you accomplished this year. I know you’ll grow from the experience and come back in 2014 stronger, fitter and faster. Maddog misses you and would like a visit soon! Btw, she’s walking!