This year's House Cup was a success for oodles of reasons... least of which we had not one, not two, but three new athletes cross the threshold into post Open competition. Patrick and Coach Jon will both participate in the Masters Qualifier Thursday-Monday, April 20-24, 2017, while Coach Shannon will go on to Regionals Memorial Day Weekend in Del Mar (along with Colleen, who will be representing team NorCal!).
Saying the commitment Patrick, Jon and Shannon showed over this last year was inspiring is a gross understatement. These three have been the epitome of dedication, and their efforts proved it. Patrick jumped 313 spots to finish 143rd in his age category, while Coach Jon jumped 104 spots in the Masters 40-44 to finish 165th and Coach Shannon technically jumped 50 places from last year (there's a story here), landing her in 9th this year!
These three have been such great leading examples that I wanted to take an opportunity to have them share some reflections with all of you:
What was a highlight from your experience of the 2017 open?
Patrick - Watching so many people putting their hearts and souls into their WODs. Regardless of their skill levels or their goals (or even if they had full use of their extremiites), they showed up and took on each workout with the hearts of lions. Another was kidnapping Mambo from the Black Mambas and documenting his adventures on social media. I probably enjoyed that a little too much.
Jon - In general it was the House Cup. Seeing the UB community and spirit come out was truly moving. On a personal level, it was improving on every workout with my 2nd attempt. One thing I wanted from this year’s training was to be ABLE to re-do workouts. Last year I wanted to but couldn’t recover fast enough. This year I got better with each re-do, and that made the difference getting into the top 200.
Shannon - The highlight of my Open 2017 was snatching 175 a couple times in 17.3. This was a PR for me, but more importantly... it was the weight that I timed out at in 16.2 (the similar clean ladder one) last year. While I am proud of winning 17.2 (don't get me wrong), 17.3 was more satisfying for me because I'm not typically expected to do well with heavy weights. The fact that I can snatch this year what I had trouble cleaning last year is insane to me.
What would be your advice to others pushing to compete beyond the Open?
Patrick - 1) Trust the coaching and know that you’re making progress, even when you don’t think you are. 2) There is nothing like a competition to help you improve as an athlete.
Jon - Sit down and talk with a coach about it (I’m happy to do it), even if you only want to compete casually. Know why you’re doing it and what priority you’re giving it in your life. Everyone’s answers to those are different. But there are no shortcuts. If you’re doing it to improve, you need a plan. The most improvement comes in the training leading up to the competition, not the competition itself.
Shannon - For others looking to go further competitively, I would say 2 things:
1. Don't count yourself out. The first time I watched Regionals in 2014 (it was still NorCal Regionals and the cutoff was still Top 48) my coach at the time asked me if I wanted to go to Regionals some day. I laughed and told him "These bitches are crazy." Then in 2015 when Regionals became Super Regionals and the cutoff went from Top 48 to Top 20, (like many others) I basically said, well I'm for sure not making it now. I used to come up w excuses for myself, saying I'm not enough like *this* or *that*, or I could never *insert excuse here*. It wasn't until April 2015 that I actually convinced myself I could make Regionals if I actually wanted to. That's when I found James. Once you start to consider something actually possible, your mindset changes and the work you do is actually for a reason... purposeful, diligent, deliberate practice.
2. You're not going to do it alone. If you're serious about getting better competitively, it's not going to happen simply by wishing it would. You're going to need to proactively seek additional help from proven experts in their field, and stay accountable. For me, I have James Kusama (former regional athlete, expert programmer, and current master qualifier) who determines my exercise programming cycles, and I have Ashley Smith (Working Against Gravity) who determines my nutritional intake as well as monitoring my stress levels, sleep quality, mindfulness etc.
What's been the biggest game changer in the last year?
Patrick - Several months ago I signed up for personal training for gymnastics from Coach Shannon and Olympic lifting with Coach Shaheen. Although my performance in those two areas during the Open wasn’t the stuff of legends, it was much better than it would have been without their coaching.
Jon - Having someone else program for me to really address my weaknesses. I finished 918th in 16.4. That result kept me out of the top 200 last year. And that same score for 17.4 would have been 1,420th. I finished 403rd in 17.4. But that didn’t happen overnight. That was a year of HSPU and overhead work. It’s still a weakness for me, but I improved enough that it kept me in the race.
Shannon - Biggest game changers this year were: quitting my full time job and dropping 16 pounds. You'll do crazy things if you care about something enough :)