Ashley is a Level 1 CrossFit Certified Trainer and has taken the CrossFit Judges Course to further her ability to judge competitive athletes. Ashley has been an avid CrossFitter since May 2012. She quickly fell in love with the sport and started coaching CrossFit in September 2012. She has also been personal training and teaching fitness classes since 2010. Ashley is also obtaining her CrossFit Gymnastics certification and enrolling to become a FireFighter. After only one year of training she competed in the 2013 Canada East Regionals.
Article from Ashley Smith’s blog
(Ok, I know this is a little overdue, but better late than never!)
There’s so much to say about my first ever CrossFit Games – Canada East Regionals experience!
The anxiety and nerves really started to kick in when I arrived on Thursday evening to register and I saw just how big the venue was. Watching the set up of the game floor, seeing the vendors and recognizing some big name faces. I started to feel a little bit more relaxed when I saw Jenna from ReEvolve. Her encouragement and support over the last few months has been exponential and more than I could ask for. Once again, I felt so thankful and lucky to have great people who believe in me.
Friday morning, bright and early, up like a bat out of hell! I headed down to the International Centre for our first athlete debriefing. I was happily met by a extraordinary girl who I truly admire, Michele Letendre, and my killer teammate, Tina Popp. Finally, some familiarity, smiles and hugs! We’re all in this together, but not. Such an odd and exhilarating feeling.
Tina had told me that she had a friend who would be able to help us in the Medical area in case we needed some physio or taping, I thought it was pretty cool, made me feel like a real athlete. As I wandered over to meet her friend, I met a new friend, Dr. Adam Wade. I liked Adam right away, and told him he would be my new found friend for the weekend. Throughout the weekend, he became my lifesaver.
I was very nervous as I warmed up for Event 1, Jackie. Repeating my game plan a few times, sticking to my normal and familiar warm ups when I heard, “Heat 3, line up”. My heart started pounding as I got into the “cattle gates” as I called them. Breathing became difficult and disgusting cotton mouth started early. (Picture Jim Carrey in Me, Myself and Irene). Out onto the floor we went, met our judges, chalked our bars and straddled the rowers.
….It was real, here…we…go!
3…2….1..GO! — We were off on Jackie! I set my pace on the rower, and did a bit better than planned, which was good because the thrusters caught up to me and went a little slower than planned. My pull ups threw me off, considering 30 unbroken is usually not a problem, my hands slipped at 8! I recovered and finished out my first ever Jackie time with a 7:41. A time I felt content with.
As I walked off the floor I saw Tina and Michele getting ready to head out, I wished them luck and went to roll out. It felt like an elephant had been lifted, the ice was broken!
Between events Tina and I went back to the hotel to unwind, discuss and get pumped up for the next event. This was our ritual throughout the entire weekend. It was nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the other athletes and events.
Event 2 – 3 rep Overhead Squats! I had a game plan and felt good going into this one. I knew that I wasnt going to hit anything jaw dropping here, but I was going to hit my goal. As I walked onto the floor, a fun and familiar song came on and I began to smile and dance! I ended up hitting just above my goal with a 145 x 3. Again, I felt content with this.
– A quick 2 minute break – and we were off to Event 3 – 30 Burpee Muscle Ups for time, with a 7 minute cap. I felt good heading into this event with a goal of 20 reps. Things started out good, a solid pace, but as I got tired my kip got bigger and a little bit out of standard. I ended up with 4 no reps due to my feet going too high in my kip. At that point, being exhausted made it hard to correct with a smaller kip. I ended up with 18 burpee muscle ups, which I was disappointed in myself for, but I was close to my goal so it was okay!
I could finally breathe, day one was in the books. I was still full of energy and adrenaline, but exhausted and ready for food and a good sleep.
At this point, I hadn’t looked at the Leaderboard when my good friend Ashley said “So, how’s it feel to be sitting 10th?” *Blank Stare* I thought, there’s just no way Im sitting 10th! I checked right away and actually screamed “Holy Sh*T!!!” (and jumped!) I was so excited…. but then, full of panic! “Wait, does this mean that I will be bumped into the final heat for the 100′s?”. I hoped not, and when I inquired Friday night, was told no! *Phew* I was safe…. I left and went back to the hotel to relax and watch Friends!
Saturday morning came too quick for my liking, as my sleep wasn’t too sound. I arrived that morning only to find out that I had in fact been bumped up to the top heat. (*Gulp, I wanted to vomit*).
Seeing my name along with Michele Letendre and Camille Leblanc Bazinet was more terrifying than exciting. Self doubt took over and I had already started to self defeat before even warming up. “I cant compete with them, I’m just not ready for this yet”. My only comfort was knowing that I would be throwing down next to Tina, her drive would surely help carry me through, (and it did).
Standing there nauseous as ever, Michele asked how my first day was. When I told her I’d felt great with the day, and that I’d been bumped into her heat she thought it was “awesome”. I told her, although I found her to be amazing and a beast, she scared the crap out of me as a competitor! She laughed and told me “Ash, just have fun, you can do this!”… *sigh*
So, there Tina and I were, warming up and trying to calm each other down. As I put in my head phones and tried to focus on MY game plan, I couldn’t help but watch these incredible athletes do their thing. Again, mentally, I was breaking down before stepping on the floor. Intimated? Just a tad.
“Heat 4, line up!” *Shit*… Here we go! I saddled up in my cattle Lane 11, right next to my impressive, loud and amazing orange haired cheering section from my box, CrossFit Surgite, and next to Tina in Lane 12.
3…2…1…Go! Wall balls, they went a bit slower than expected; that little round target is a bit of a game changer if you’re new to it, but I made do. Chest to bar pull ups…. they humbled me. Usually I was fast and efficient at these, or so I thought. However, there’s a big lesson to be learned from training on your own in your home gym, and then next to the top athletes in Canada East. Their form seemed flawless to my spastic butterfly pull ups. I started to think,“Please just don’t let me be the last one on here”. I pushed through the first 50 before my hands tore. As much as I could, I pushed past the pain, what other choice did I have? As I took a moment to breathe around the 90th rep, I realized I was in fact the last one on the bar. Great, I was living a nightmare. I forced myself to just focus and know that pistols were next and I can push through them like a bowl of pudding…. I just had to get there, and get there fast. Finally, pistols! I smashed them out and was able to regain some headway on a few girls while hopping over to the dumbbell snatches. Now, those puppies were no picnic let me tell you. Holding the DB hurt on the torn skin, let alone tossing it around like a dandelion. I managed to pop out 30 of those bad boys before the buzzer went, in which I collapsed my body on the floor for a minute, then crawled over to give Tina a big hug. Was one of the best moments of my weekend actually. Being able to look over and have Tina yell at me and vice versa to just keep going, pick it up, don’t stop … It made me love what I was doing that much more, regardless of the pain I was in. I never thought I’d smile during the 100′s, but I did, and more than once.
Walking across the game floor and hugging Michele and congratulating her on being the only female in Canada East to finish the 100′s, it just felt surreal.
I walked off the game floor, and was met by Frank, an incredible member and man I look up to at our box. He gladly accepted the position of “Coach Frank” for the weekend. I knew he would calm me down, motivate me, support me and be an incredible coach. And that he was. Frank came over and gave me a hug after the 100′s and quickly said, “Go get on the bike, flush your lactic acid then get out of here”. He stood by me and walked me through a good cool down. I was met by a sea of orange family and friends afterwards and was so overwhelmed with their love and support, it was rather emotional. Frank led me out of the sea of people back to the hotel where I took a good nap and regrouped to get ready for Event 5.
Event 5, Heavy Dead lifts and Box Jumps. Now, dead lifts have always been a weakness for me since the day I started CrossFit. And although my strength has increased and my numbers have doubled, I still find them rather painful even at lighter weights for reps. Clearly, I was not looking forward to this event, but I had a game plan and regardless of my surroundings, I would stick to it.
I was right on target with my game plan, although it ranked me rather low in this event, I put it out of my mind immediately when I was finished. The dead lifts destroyed my back midway through the 15′s, to which my back actually began to give out at the top of each lift. I pushed through the pain and awkwardness telling myself, “you’re finishing this WOD, don’t stop pushing!”. 7:20 was my time for Event 5. Considering the top dogs crushed it in about 4-5 minutes, I once again was humbled.
I went and found Adam, with a cry of “HELP ME”! He helped work out some kinks and hurts, and told me to come back in the morning.
Day 2, see ya later! I was sitting 16th overall, and was still very shocked that I had only dropped 6 places. Quite happy yet again, I went off to eat, relax and have some laughs.
Sunday, bloody Sunday… being hit by a truck was an understatement as I hobbled out of bed to look at my fat exhausted face in the mirror. *sigh* -Its the last day, get your shit together.
Event 6, you seem… fun? 100 DU, 50 HSPU, 40 T2B, 30 Shoulder 2 Overhead with an axle @100lbs and a 90ft walking lunge. (*Mother of Pearl*). I went into this event with a plan, as I did with the rest. However, things didn’t exactly go according to plan this time.
Double-unders, we’ve never really been friends, but we decided to put that behind us for today. They did go slower than most, but that was expected, just like my stumpy legged row. I thought, I know I can make up ground on the HSPU, those are a strength for me, Ill plough through them…. or not. I guess my fat sausage fingers drifted too far onto the white box line, which was enough for about 15 no reps from my judge. Maybe she just couldn’t tell the difference between the girth of my palm and my fingers? Its highly possible. 50 HSPU were exhausting enough, let alone around 65. So, heading into toes to bar was daunting with the burn I had in my shoulders. I had forgotten just how much my hands hurt until I hopped onto the bar. (F**K that hurts!) Hands, forearms, shoulders – everything hurt. Once again, my mental game began to fail me as I thought about my “good standings” slipping away. The axle was new for me, and I had just learned how to clean it up more efficiently about 20 minutes prior to go time. But, I managed to finish with 20 reps of the shoulder to overhead. Most certainly not in accordance with my so called game plan here, I was rather disappointed in my DNF. (*suck it up buttercup, not your first, wont be your last*).
6 events down, 1 to go … There I was, physically mangled and mentally exhausted – I decided to take a nap. My coach, Doug, texted me saying “You have 3:00 to be mad, then move on”. (Easier said than done).
Sitting in 19th heading into Event 6, I knew I didn’t want to drop out of the Top 20 and I needed to haul some serious ass here. Everything I had left, I had to leave it there to die.
3…2…1…Go! Rope Climbs and Heavy Cleans… (Thank you Doug for programming so many heavy cleans!) I managed a decent pace with the first two rounds, when the rope climbs seemed more like 50 feet than 15. I slipped a couple feet down on one climb, and literally felt like I was humping my way back up the rope just so I didn’t have to start it over again! The cleans felt great, and I was happy with them. I ended with an 8:06 finish, a little slower than I would have liked but I felt content with it.
The end of Event 7 left me feeling the same way as after Event 1 – relieved. It was over.
At the end of the day, I was 18th overall. I knew that I gave it my all, and I was rather happy with my first year as a CrossFitter. I went into the Open with no expectations of making Regionals and managed to squeak by in 45th place. So, for one year of CrossFit, heading in at 45th and coming out at 18th, I’d like to say I’m pretty happy and proud of where I started and how far I’ve come.
Now, what did I learn?
– I really need to work on my mental game. The intimidation needs to be weeded out, and I need to have more confidence in my training and myself to know that I too deserved to be there.
– I need to be confident, not concerned.
– I still hate dead lifts, toes to bar and 100 of anything. Add them to the list of weaknesses I will surely attack this year.
– Do not get distracted by anyone else, focus on you and you alone.
– Being in the top heat shouldn’t scare me, it should excite and motivate me. It means you work that much harder and accomplish that much more than you would have expected.
….just to name a few.
All in all, the last year has been a complete whirlwind experience. The journey has been incredibly exhilarating and eye opening to what I am capable of. Letting go of self doubt and allowing myself to believe in everything I am will be by far the biggest hurdle for me, but I know I will overcome it.
I am already excited for the 2014 season and can’t wait to see what I can accomplish in the next 9 months!
Thank you to my entire CrossFit Surgite family for your unmatched love and support, Kevin and Justin for being so understanding, patient and allowing me the time to prepare for Regionals while covering my ass at the gym and pushing me through workouts when I needed it. My irreplaceable girlfriends who understood and supported me the entire way. To Doug who has been a great coach and whos programming has been outstanding. To Jenna and Jakeat ReEvolve for bringing me onto your team and supporting me the way you have, David at FitAid for choosing me as a Canadian representative and supporting me towards Regionals. My CrossFit Lady Bosses from the US who were so helpful, encouraging and motivating throughout all the new challenges I faced as a newbie – you guys were awesome. And to Tina, who was absolutely the best partner in crime I could ask for.
Here we go…. 2014!
~ Ashley ~
Beastly News editorial comment: Ashley, thanks again for letting us share your article on the site. After just one year of CrossFit training you are certainly “Beastly.” Work on those goats and come back stronger next year.