2012 Reebok CrossFit Games Recap: Sunday - Day 7

  • Aug 05, 2012

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    Sunday 7/15/12:

    The final day of The 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games was about to go underway and I was here, qualified and deserving, but not able to continue.  I woke in time to head down to breakfast at the hotel to wish the Invictus Team and some other individual athletes good luck in the last workouts.  It was harder than I thought to go down there.  I contained my emotions as I wished them luck, but broke down in my hotel room as I got ready to go to The Home Depot Center for what was sure to be an exciting day of competition.

     

    With Marcus at my side for strength, we spent Sunday as spectators cheering on the last standing athletes as they contended for the title of The Fittest on Earth.  I think it's human nature to second-guess and ask "what if's"…and that's exactly what I was doing on Sunday.  The first workout being The Double Banger, I knew that I would have been able to gut through it and that I would have done well if I was healthy.  Growing up with a dad who is a carpenter and working as a groundskeeper for four years through college I was no stranger to throwing a sludge hammer around and double-unders are no problem.  I had to shake those thoughts from my mind though…they would be the end of me.  I knew that I made the right decision and the risk of further injury was too high.  So, I swallowed those thoughts and instead gave some of the other girls tips on how to approach the workout based on what I knew about hard labor.  During the women's heats, I yelled my heart out for those girls, fighting back tears the entire time.

     double banger

    When the final workout was announced, it reaffirmed my decision to be the smart one.  There was no way my neck would have made it through "Elizabeth", "Isabel" or "Fran".  There was nothing more that I wanted than to be out there, but I knew there was a reason…not sure what the reason was…but I knew there was one.  It was amazing to watch the athletes battle to the finish.  The effort, the camaraderie and the passion exhibited by each individual athlete was inspiring to watch, but also so challenging for me to maintain composure.  At that moment there was nothing harder in life than watching others do what I felt I should have been doing.  The hard work put in month after month after month this last year seemed like it was for nothing.  That of course was not the truth once I had time to reflect.

    2012 Podium

     

    Reflection…

    We put our heart and soul into what we love.  CrossFit has become a love of mine.  I do it because I am able, because I like how it makes me feel and because it's fun.  Getting 6th at The 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games my rookie season was mind-blowing, motivating but also a game changer for me.  Coming into the 2012 season I now felt like I had more pressure to do well for myself, for my fans, for my support team and for my sponsors.  This pressure was of course self-inflicted and potentially played a part in my demise at The Games.

     

    Battling an injury is not uncommon in the world of athletics.  Watching the Olympics you see athletes taped, braced and nursing aches and pains.  The CrossFit Games are the Olympics of exercise and the story is the same here.  I was not the only athlete coming into 2012 fighting an injury.  Unfortunately, on the weekend of July 13th, 14th, 15th, my injury flared up to a point that was beyond my control and I could no longer push through.  Throughout my season, starting not long before The Open, I had to listen to my body and take some time off to let the flare up calm itself to point where I could function again.  Did I take enough time off?  No!  Did I do what the doctor ordered each time I had a relapse?  No!  Do I regret that 100%?  Yes!  I have been an athlete my entire life, starting with little league softball, and have of course been dealt my fair share of muscle tears, stress fractures and other minor injuries that I was always able to push through.  Once this neck thing came about I figured I could do the same thing.  Once the shooting pains subsided during the flare-ups I figured I was good to go.  With that approach it was just a matter of time until my neck gave out on me again.  Two weeks before regionals I was down and out, but let it rest enough to where I was able to compete and win the Norcal Region.  Three weeks after Regionals I was laid up again…this time the worst yet.  However, with my medical and support team behind me I was able to rehab it to the point of feeling healthy again.  I was in for The Games!

     

    What made it flare up at The Games?  Was it the HSPU workout?  Was it the events leading up to it?  Or was it just plain bad luck?  Yes…the pounding from the run, the compression from jumping during the O-course, the several missed attempts at the bar muscle up, the fatigue and stress my body was being dealt that weekend…all combined together to aggravate my neck injury.  But it also was that my neck was not healthy coming in.  The biggest thing that I learned this season was that we have to listen to our bodies.  They are machines, but machines also sometimes have mechanical failures and need to be fixed.  That is what is happening with my neck.  Now with a couple of months to stay away from training and doing and things that I know are not good for my injury, it's time to fully heal.  I will come back to 2013 stronger and healthier and you can bet with more fire under me than ever before.

     

    I mentioned before that I believe everything happens for a reason and at the time I wasn't sure what the reason for this was.   In the last several weeks I have had time to think about it and have an answer…actually a couple of answers.  Number one, my cousin Amanda was one of many family members that came to support me that weekend.  When I was there she told me that she had called a local CrossFit gym in her area and signed up for an appointment with a coach the following week.  Amanda was an incredible swimmer in her high school/college years, but with work and the addition of her beautiful baby girl to their family, she hasn't taken time for herself to keep her healthy.  The CrossFit Games changed her life and in the last couple weeks she has started her journey to regaining her life back.  Here is a picture of her getting after it.  I am so proud of you Mandy!!!  Love you so much!!

     Mandy

    The second thing that absolutely touched my heart happened on Sunday in the stands when I should have been on the floor competing.  When I released my video about my life with epilepsy, I received a touching response from a woman named Tamera telling me about her niece Brooklyn who is 5 years old and also living with this disorder.  She said that my video provided inspiration and hope for her, Brooklyn and their family.  Knowing it was a shot in the dark, but hoping it would happen, I asked her to please try and find me during The Games so I could meet her.  Long story short, on Sunday I was standing on the landing above the bleachers looking down and trying to fight back tears when I heard someone say my name and tapped on my shoulder.  I turned around to see a woman standing with one of the cutest little girls I'd ever seen.  Tamera introduced herself and Brooklyn to me and I immediately embraced both of them with the tightest hug I could muster up.  I knelt down to Brooklyn's level and asked her if she was going to be a CrossFitter when she grew up.  Her response…"I have a pink jump rope."  It was so cute and I about died laughing but controlled myself and asked her if I could come jump rope with her someday.  She said yes and my heart sank...I've never wanted to jump rope so badly in my life!  Seeing Brooklyn that day and knowing her story brought me back to reality again.  Being a CrossFit athlete doesn't define me as a person.  It's something that I get to do, something I am healthier for and something I get to inspire others through, but looking Brooklyn in the eyes that day made me remember that I am lucky to do all of this and there is so much more to life than having to withdraw from a competition.  I was wrapped up in what had happened the day before, instead of embracing the present and finding the positive light in where I was at that moment.  Thank you Brooklyn!

    Brooklyn 

     

    My 2012 season was not as I had expected, had hoped or could have even imagined…but it ended the way it was supposed to.  I learned a more valuable lesson having to withdraw than I would have if I had made it to the top.  To quote the great Lance Armstrong, "It's not about the bike."  That's so true.  I made it to The Reebok CrossFit Games 2 years in a row with less than 2 years of CrossFit training under my belt.  That is something that I can never be disappointed with and am honored to even say I have been able to be a part of.  This year I put my heart and soul into my training, into the stress of fighting an injury, into spending less time doing what I wanted to be doing and instead doing what I thought I should have been doing.  Great things came of that…I landed sponsorships with Reebok, Rogue, Pure Pharma, Digigraph and Primal Blueprint.  I was able to work with one the top CrossFit coaches around, CJ Martin.  I was able to improve myself as an athlete, gaining strength and improving technique.  I was able to connect with so many people as a CrossFit athlete and continue to meet great people in the sport everyday.  For me, this season was about getting my word out about and becoming a spokesperson for epilepsy awareness.  I can honestly say this now that I have had time to reflect…there is nothing about this season I would change because it is how it was supposed to be.  I am excited to see what this next year brings as my injury heals, my body strengthens and mind becomes more focused.

    • Gravatar of Traci

      Traci

      Posted Sunday, August 05, 2012 at 6:10:10 PM

      You are such an inspiration to all of us and I so admire your stealth, strength and perseverance.

    • Gravatar of Trish

      Trish

      Posted Sunday, August 05, 2012 at 6:29:27 PM

      You are one inspiring woman, Jenny Labaw! Can't wait to watch you kick some ass next year!!

    • Gravatar of Lyle

      Lyle

      Posted Sunday, August 05, 2012 at 10:13:29 PM

      I'm glad Brooklyn gave you the clarity you deserve...because these fans of yours...our admiration for you doesn't come from your times or your PR's or where you finish, but from your journey and your fight. The positive influence you have on people all over the world, those of us who are fortunate to know you in real life and those who have never met you...but would like to...that's what it is all about. You are changing peoples lives by doing something you are passionate about. We can't ask for any more than that in this life, except to be surrounded by people we care about. So...enjoy the journey, get well, spend time with Marcus and go do what makes you happy. Competing in 2013 or not, your fans will remain your fans.

    • Gravatar of Alex

      Alex

      Posted Monday, August 13, 2012 at 12:12:46 PM

      Jenny thank you for sharing your week at CrossFit with us. You are right Brooklyn is a cutie. Always remember you such a great role model not only for our children but for everyone. Jenny if you are every in the NE competing please let us know. Thanks