Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Can’t Beat ‘Em…JUDGE ‘Em

One very important aspect to any legit CrossFit competition is the judging. This is a point I never would have understood had I competed this year. My time away from competing has proved to be an experience and reflection upon my sport in someone else’s shoes.

I’ve always been a stickler for form, almost to a point of obsession. Scott and I have had many healthy debates back and forth on the exact placement of body parts to execute a functional lift. I’m also known around CrossFit Cedar Park for being strict and not allowing sloppy form to go unnoticed. Above all this, I practice what I preach. I make it a point to stay true to form no matter how fatigued I feel in a workout. How has this helped me? During a competitive situation, the last thing I have to think about is my form. And who wants to come in second due to a lost rep for crap range of motion?

It would seem that with all my practice and studies, judging an athlete would be a simple task. It’s just coaching one athlete at a time, right? Not so much…

March kicked off Games season here in ATX with the CrossFit South Central Sectional. Determined to be on that playing field Scott and I volunteered to judge. We studied the workouts and attended the athlete’s meeting to ensure we knew the exact standards placed upon them. Neither of us wanted to be known as, “the judge that screwed me out of a win.” In a community where everyone has at least 5 cameras, and seems to think their experience makes them more educated than you we had no room to let anything slide. Needless to say, we were nervous.

The first heat is always the most nerve wracking, but after “3…2…1…Go” focus sets in and we prove to be the experts on all that is good and all that is bad. Disappointing an athlete with the words, “No count!” pulls at your heart and sucks the motivation out of the weaker competitor. But, once you’ve ripped off that band-aid, seen a few amazing and some not so amazing athletes move through you seem to find your groove. Your word becomes the law as you make or break each athlete’s day. (Yet deep down they all know they are responsible for their own actions. It’s easier for some to blame others than to take responsibility for themselves.)

In Dead Man’s Row Scott and I learned quickly that a 2k row is boring and kills athlete’s legs making dead lifts easy to count. The second wod reveiled which gym’s focus on oly lifts and which don’t, and that double unders are possible in the grass (unless you were in the first heat). Day two and wod 3 proved that sun screen is a must and counting 1 hand stand push up per 12 minutes wasn’t that much fun. (Note to self: gymnastics is key to being a top competitor.) As the winners were announced we learned that even with a DNF (Did Not Finish) one could still qualify to the next round, CrossFit South Central Regionals.

By the end of May I was much more pregnant and with only 6 weeks until my due date Scott and I were worried about my ability to be involved in Regionals. I was determined. I contacted Pam and Matt to make sure we could play some sort of part in the event. After competing in the 2009 Games and earning my ticket to compete in the 2010 Regionals, learning that I would be attending as “Scott Isbell’s guest” was quite the blow to my swollen ego. But then again I’ve had issues knowing when to slow down for the sake of my baby and my body. I ended up registering as a judge and spending the next few hours listening and watching the standards for each of the 10 workouts.

The first event at regionals tested both athletes and judges. Snatch, Overhead Squat is always technical. Add a timed environment and hundreds of screaming spectators and the pressure was on. One of my athletes was Paul Smith. Paul lacked a fully open hip on a few of his squats costing him some reps, but made it through to the final bar. At that point I asked for extra eyes to ensure my judgment was dead on.

I jumped in on as many heats as my body (and husband) would let me. It was over 100 degrees at GSX. I remember Tucker saying, “We don’t call it The Skillet for nothin’!” My fingers and ankles were swelling and the more water I drank the more trips to the toilet I had to make. The temperatures were a huge factor to everyone. Counting reps, screaming at the top of your lungs, all with the sun beating down on you. It could make anyone crazy. For many judges, keeping rep counts straight became a challenge, but remember everyone in this community has at least 5 cameras. Get it straight or suffer the cursed rath of Tucker, a man that takes pride in hosting only the most successful and well respected events across the world.

Scott was in on almost every heat. As judges we do our best not to make enemies, but I recall an upset team competitor ranting about one judge allowing kipping ring dips after her judge had denied her reps for kipping. A few minutes later Scott was approached by a fan of the team that felt his experience was superior to that of Scott's. Later the team's captain thanked Scott for his hard work and ethical judgment.

I spent a majority of the second day watching, drinking water, and making sure Scott was taken care of. I felt hung over from the first day. I guess the heat and work really took it out of me.

This down time gave me the opportunity to stand back and watch the female competitors workout for workout. I took notice of those that had improved since last year. I took notice of the increase in intensity and technique in each workout from last year. I took notice that no element of CrossFit was left out of this year’s competition. I wondered where I would have fallen had I competed. Would my growth over the last year been enough to set me apart from Candice Ruiz? I took note of what my weaknesses were when I left my training and what exactly it is that I will commit myself to when I return to my training. God help me, that day is gonna suck!

As the final heat came to a close and everyone gathered ‘round for awards it became evident that a judges work is never done. Who the heck was going to clean up this mess?! The amazing team of judges and hand full of volunteers tackled Hell’s Half Acre and things were looking good as Scott and I pulled out of the parking lot and check back in our review mirror.

Thank you to Pam, Matt and Tucker for allowing Scott and I to take part in such a well run event. As worn out and dirty as we were on that long drive back to Austin, we still talked about how much we enjoyed ourselves. Is it odd that we consider weekends like this quality time in our marriage?

And to Deric Maruquin, way to represent Mabry and CFCP! Good Luck in Cali. I’m more ways that one I wish I would be there!

1 comment:

tuck said...

i will never be able to repay you! ever, but damned if i aint gonna try!

love the article