Minibeast in the Making: Celebrating 3 Years of CrossFit

Apparently, time flies when you’re having fun. August 22 marked my 3 year anniversary at CrossFit Bridge City & it completely slipped by me. This might be, in part, to school starting, chaos ensuing and all hell breaking loose in general as we dive head first into yet another busy school year.

August 22, 2012 - my first social check-in for CrossFit!

August 22, 2012 – my first social check-in for CrossFit!

Plenty has happened in three years. My husband & I went through a lot of marriage counseling. After years of fighting, we finally met our goal together – crossing the finish line at the Spartan Beast to complete our Trifecta. (I would totally add that to the “let’s do it again” list!)

After 3 years, our Spartan Trifecta is complete.

After 3 years, our Spartan Trifecta is complete.

I’ve lifted a ton of heavy weight (pun intended), done 10,000 pull-ups and thought I might die on more than one occasion. I’ve had plenty of struggles and PRs (personal records) along the way. Like finally learning to do bar muscle-ups. That’s a moment I will never forget! I felt pure giddiness when I managed to get on top of the pull-up rig for the first time. (For real, I kicked & screamed with excitement like a little girl.) Ring muscle-ups are another story….but stay tuned, because I don’t give up easily.

Bar muscle-up practice!

Bar muscle-up practice!

Before CrossFit, I was just getting started on my fitness journey – which I’ve come to realize is my journey to self discovery. I was weak, uneducated about the human body, nutrition and my abilities. I was full of self doubt. I had no idea what I was getting myself into or the person I would become. I didn’t know CrossFit would change my life.

I know that sounds melodramatic, but that is exactly what happened. CrossFit changed my life because it changed my perspective. I hate failing. Funny thing is, failure is common in CrossFit. And I do it – a lot. I still don’t like it, but I’m learning it’s not a bad thing.

Failure is one step closer to success.

Failure gives you the opportunity to learn from your mistakes, to become better. Failure gives you the chance to refine your skills, to improve your technique. Failure encourages you to go back to the basics, to educate yourself further. It is in the process, where you ultimately find success.

Ring muscle-up drills.

Ring muscle-up drills after failing them in the CrossFit Open.

Because of CrossFit, I am a strong woman. I am a healthy body. I am a renewed soul. I am a changed perspective. I am a success. Because of CrossFit, I can accomplish anything if I’m willing to fail a few times first.

But CrossFit wouldn’t be possible without my support system. Thank you to my husband, Ryan​, for always supporting me – especially on those days when I didn’t believe in myself. Thank you for not letting me wallow in self pity when things didn’t come easily. Thank you for pushing me to be more, in all areas of my life. Thank you for believing in me. You’re still the strongest man I know & I love that you’re mine.

Thank you to my CFBC Rooster Crew who keep me accountable & make the journey fun. I couldn’t do it without your witty humor and unfailing support at 5:00 a.m. You girls still amaze me!

Thank you to my coaches for having patience with me as I gripe my way through learning a new skill or conquering a fear. Thank you for continuing to provide me with opportunities to learn specialized skills – like Olympic lifting & gymnastics – from the best in the business. Thank you for yelling at me when I needed it.

This is only the beginning!

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Making the Little Fierce: R.A.D.

Last week I attended a R.A.D. Systems training. R.A.D. stands for Rape, Aggression, Defense and it’s a course designed specifically to help educate people on the very real danger of sexual assault (commonly known as rape) and how to avoid it. For two days, our group of ladies learned about awareness, prevention, risk reduction and avoidance. We also learned some basic hands-on self defense training.

RAD Training

For me, the scariest part was fighting (yes, for real) the guy next to me in this photo. At 6’5″ and 282 pounds, he had a definite size & weight advantage on me. (I’m 4’10” and 114 pounds.) After several hours of instruction and drills, they put us through different scenarios where we were required to fight our way out of a precarious situation.

I was petrified.

I’ve been small my whole life. It’s something I’ve just kind of accepted. (It’s not like I have much choice in the matter.) That being said, I’ve also let it get inside my head on more than one occasion. Give me a CrossFit workout with wall balls? I’m totally going to complain & claim I have a disadvantage. Put me in a dark alley with a guy 168 pounds heavier than I am? I might just change my mind about my fighting abilities.

But, I did it!

I was definitely scared & more so than I thought I would be considering I knew this was just a simulation – but I did it. I managed to fight my way out of choke holds & being restrained from behind with my arms pinned down. I was able to fight this guy off several times and even land a few good punches in the process. Before last week, I had no idea what I was capable of. Today, I feel much more confident in myself were I ever to be put in a dangerous situation.

LittleFierce

R.A.D. offers courses for women, men, kids and seniors. I encourage everyone take it, especially women. Without a doubt, I genuinely feel like this course could save your life. For those in our area, it’s offered free by the Beaumont Police Department. A fair warning, though, they are in high demand and space is very limited. I recommend contacting Sgt. Cox to get on the list for an upcoming class. Side note: Classes are limited due to funding. If you know of a business willing to donate, please refer them to Sgt. Cox as well. Those not in southeast Texas can find a R.A.D. training location on their website.

March 8-14, 2015 is NO MORE Week. NO MORE is a national movement to raise public awareness and engage bystanders around ending domestic violence and sexual assault. I encourage all of you to use this week as an opportunity to educate yourselves on sexual assault and domestic violence. And then, find a R.A.D. class and get signed up!

 

Do or Do Not. There is No Try.

I live by the motto, “Do or do not. There is no try.” Some may have the misconception that I don’t believe in failure.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I fail. Often. And failure is necessary in life.

It’s what reminds us we’re human. It’s what reminds us we need help along our journey. It’s what reminds us to pray. To seek knowledge and understanding. To grow physically & mentally & spiritually.

It is in the midst of those failures and hardships when God is molding us into the people He knows we can be. The people He’s calling us to be. And truth be told, God always has way bigger (& better) plans for us than we ever have for ourselves. The key is trusting His timing. His will. The path He has chosen for us.

Three years ago, Ryan and I began our Spartan journey. We went into it with no expectations. I had only recently began running and really had no idea what I was getting myself into. After running our first Spartan, Ryan and I decided we wanted to go for the Spartan Trifecta (running three races in one year – Sprint, Super & Beast).

Not quite a Trifecta...

Not quite a Trifecta…

Fast forward 6 Spartan races later and there’s still no Trifecta medal around our necks. So what happened? Simply put, God had other plans.

This Saturday, we will run the Spartan Beast for the third time, at last completing our Trifecta. After many, many, many miles of mud, obstacles, blood, sweat and tears, I couldn’t be more ready. And yet, I’m also a little anxious about finally finishing this task we set out to do so long ago.

For Ryan and I, obstacle racing became our marriage counseling & completing the Trifecta became more about us spending time together while teaching our children what it means to never give up.

Sometimes in life it’s hard to see beyond the obstacles currently in front of us. It’s easy to find reasons to give up on those things we’ve said we’d do. We begin to second guess ourselves. To wonder if we’re on the right path. And then God gently nudges us, reminding us why He’s called us to whatever path He’s chosen for us. Guiding and teaching us along us the way.

We are all capable of great things. But only through struggle and yes, even failure, do we finally reach our goals. When we learn to embrace our struggles for what they truly are – God working in us – we find the journey that much more rewarding. After all, it’s the journey that has brought us to this point and will bring us through our adventures yet to come.

Do or do not. There is no try.

5 Things You Can Do to Protect Yourself & the CrossFit House

CrossFit has gotten a bad rap for the amount of injuries it leads to. And to be fair, there is some validity in these claims. It’s hard to argue that doing CrossFit doesn’t push people to injury when the measure of success is faster time and heavier weight. It’s all about how hard you can push the limits. Right? The greater the risk the greater the reward. Isn’t that what they say?

But let’s be fair. Risk is involved in all things. Let me repeat that.

Risk is involved in all things.

If you are a runner, soccer player, power-lifter or couch potato, you’re at risk for something. The question is, what are you doing about it? And like I’ve said before, CrossFit doesn’t cause injuries. People do.

CrossFit is designed to push your limits. Most sports are. But it’s in those moments of greatness – when someone has surpassed what we thought possible – that we realize limits are worth pushing. When incredible power is achieved. When suddenly, new boundaries are set. When those willing to push hard enough are looked at with awe. With wonder. It’s in those moments where we find ourselves.

I would bet both Rich and Camille’s $275,000 every limit they pushed during their training was worth standing on that podium at the 2014 CrossFit Games as the Fittest Man and Fittest Woman on Earth.

Watch this video and tell me if you disagree.

So, you can hurt yourself in CrossFit (gasp!). Now what? What are you – what am I – doing about it? Because if we want to keep doing this sport we love, we need to start protecting our house.

CrossFit is a company, a lifestyle and its core, a workout regimen. If we don’t start taking responsibility for ourselves, we may not have a house worth coming home to. Maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but ultimately, it’s about doing the right thing. We need to start holding ourselves and each other accountable – for using proper technique, scaling when necessary, pushing the limits responsibly. Because I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of defending CrossFit when it comes to injuries. I’m tired of the hate articles and the petty “my sport is better than yours” crap.

The bottom line, folks, is we’re all doing something we love while getting fit – be it powerlifting, running, triathlons, CrossFit, Zumba or Pilates. Shouldn’t that be enough? As CrossFitters who are passionate about what we do, it’s high time we start protecting our house – the CrossFit name and our bodies.

Here are 5 Things You Can Do to Protect Yourself & the CrossFit House

Disclaimer: I’m not certified in CrossFit, kinesiology, chiropractic care or any other medical degree for that matter. I’m just a normal person who loves CrossFit and has learned my fair share about the need for injury prevention. These are a few things I feel will further your love for CrossFit (or whatever sport you love) and allow you to continuing doing it for as long as possible because you’re taking care of your body.

1)  Use proper technique and hold others accountable for doing the same.
Just like runners need to learn the difference between pronation and supination and how it effects them, CrossFitters need to learn the proper technique for the variety of different movements our sport requires. Take the time to watch videos online, attend training camps and practice. You’ve heard the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” And, while I’m not one to believe perfection can be attained, I do believe in getting as close as possible. So learn the technique and commit to it. Don’t be afraid to hold others accountable as well. Personally, I absolutely want someone to tell me if I’m doing it wrong. Otherwise, we’re all just setting ourselves up for failure – and continuing to give CrossFit a bad name.

2) Embrace your weaknesses.
The Fittest don’t get that way without hours and hours of training. If you watched this year’s Games, you heard Camille say, “Every year, you get better at finding your weaknesses.” Figure out what they are and attack them. After all, that’s what’s standing in your way of victory – and what’s likely causing you injuries if you aren’t taking the time to get the technique right. (Refer back to number 1.)

3) Educate yourself on mobility and recovery.
This is something that came out of nowhere for me. One day, I woke up and my back hurt. I knew it wasn’t due to an injury, but I also knew that it would lead to one quickly if I didn’t do something about it. After a few trips to the chiropractor, I became highly aware of how efficient our bodies can be if we’re taking care of them properly. Recovery isn’t just a supplement you drink after working out. It’s physically helping your body recover from everything you’ve put it through and mobility plays a key role in this. This involves regular (if not, daily) stretching and mobilizing – your muscles, your joints. This is not something to be taken lightly. If you fail to do this, you are setting yourself up for an injury. Period.

4) Get the right amount of sleep and the proper nutrition.
Sleep. Here lately, I haven’t been getting enough of it. And it shows in my daily WODs. There’s plenty of evidence to support why getting the right amount of sleep is important. So, 8 hours – minimum – get it. As for nutrition, this is something I’m most definitely not qualified to talk about. But, I’ve worked with a personal nutritionist as well learned from some of the best when it comes to this. And, there are a few easy things you can be doing to improve your body’s overall health. Fish oil, zinc & magnesium and vitamin D should all be a part of your daily supplements. (More on this below.)

5) Listen to your body and check your ego at the door.
This hits home majorly for me. Nearly two years ago I was hospitalized for pulmonary embolisms. For those unfamiliar, a pulmonary embolism is a blood clot in the lungs – and highly fatal. For a clot to reach your pulmonary artery, it has to have already traveled through one side of your heart. Listening to my body saved my life. Your body is way smarter than you ever thought about being. It knows when something is wrong and it’s usually giving you more than enough signs if that’s the case. Listen. And if there is in fact something wrong, don’t let your ego get in the way of your safety and the safety of those around you.

It’s my hope that by taking these small steps, we can help prevent CrossFit-related injuries and protect the CrossFit name as well as everything it represents. By doing this, we can also make sure what it represents is something we’re proud of.

There are numerous resources readily available online (and from real experts). So instead of pretending to be something I’m not, I’ll just leave a few of these gems for you below.

Technique, Mobility & Recovery Resources:

  • Bruce Barbell – Loads of free videos on gymnastics & Olympic weightlifting.
  • Mike Cazayoux: Joint by Joint Approach – A great introduction to mobilizing your joints.
  • Breaking Muscle – This site has articles for everything from endurance and weightlifting to nutrition and exercises for your kids. Here’s what they have on mobility & recovery.
  • Movement, The Book – If you’re seriously into learning how your joints work, start here.
  • Mobility WOD – While there is a paid version of this site, the free version offers some pretty great content as well. And, worth every penny – I highly recommend buying Kelly’s book, Becoming a Supple Leopard.

Supplement Recommendations:

  • Pure Pharma – High quality supplements that should be part of your daily routine.
  • Top 7 Supplements for Athletes  – Supplement recommendations from CrossFit Invictus, Fittest Team in the 2014 CrossFit Games. (They might know what they’re talking about.)
  • Eat to Perform – Meal planning guide and calculator as well as an online support system. I don’t personally subscribe to this website, but I’ve heard good things.
  • SFH Supplements – Recommendation by Games athlete, Mike Cazayoux.
  • RSP Nutrition – High quality pre and post-workout supplements. I use Fast Fuel, ReGen, AgmaGen and GlutaGen.

*Note: I have not been paid to endorse any of these products or services. These are just some resources I’ve come across during my time as a CrossFitter, either personally or through fellow athletes. Have a resource you love? Share it in the comments below.

 

Bruce Barbell Taught Me Respect

This past Saturday, I had the privilege of attending a Bruce Barbell training program with 7-time World Team member Matt Bruce and CrossFit Games Champion and Hack’s Pack UTE member, Mike Cazayoux. For 8-1/2 hours we covered Olympic weightlifting and gymnastics movements as well as endurance, nutrition and injury prevention.

To say my mind is on overload is an understatement.

Over and over we practiced different lifts, focusing specifically on the snatch and the clean & jerk. Matt Bruce and his crew would walk around us like hawks as we cleaned, jerked & snatched, critiquing our every move. “Shoulders back. Butt up. Tight core. Straight arms on the pull. Come up on your toes for the shrug. Drop under the bar. Elbows up. Fast jerk.”

How am I supposed to do all that and still remember to breathe at the same time? And as if that wasn’t hard enough, they also videoed our every move….and then proceeded to plaster it on the tv in front of everyone and tell us what we did wrong.

And I loved every minute of it.

When Mike Cazayoux took over the gymnastics portion of the program, we drilled through progressions for handstand push-ups, pull-ups, toes-to-bar and muscle-ups. All the while, he basically made these seem like child’s play as he eased into a muscle-up while talking us through the technique. Wait. You can talk & muscle-up at the same time? That’s impressive.

CrossFit Bridge City members with the Bruce Barbell crew.

CrossFit Bridge City members with the Bruce Barbell crew.

And then came nutrition and endurance. Two words: Mind. Blown.

I seriously need to get it together when it comes to my diet. This is something I’ve known for awhile now. Something I know I need to get a handle on if I want to be a real competitor. But after everything Mike had to say about nutrition and eating to perform, it became a little more clear how far off base I really am. How do people continue to live on all the crap we put into our bodies? On stuff that offers zero nutritional value?

That aside, when you get down to the nuts and bolts of the science behind the body’s three different energy systems, it’s truly mind blowing. Throw in metabolic flexibility and you may as well as well be speaking Chinese to me. Luckily, Mike broke it down on a level I could understand. Bottom line: our bodies are amazing machines and we have unbelievable power at our fingertips.

Overall, I give Bruce Barbell a 10 in all aspects of the program. It was easily the best money I’ve spent in a long time. That being said, I learned far more than technique and nutrition this past weekend.

Bruce Barbell taught me respect.

I learned how much respect Olympic weightlifters have for their craft – the barbell, the programming and the technique. I learned how a Games athlete prepares to be the fittest with hours of training and strict nutrition. I learned how much CrossFitters and Olympic Weightlifters respect one another. How much each sport has done for the other. What they continue to do.

To be the best requires intense dedication and commitment – to your training, your nutrition, your technique. It requires humbling yourself to learn from those who have been where you want to be. It requires pushing yourself beyond the limits your mind and body have created. It requires respect.

The Secret to Happily Ever After is Not What You Think

My husband, Ryan, and I have been married for almost 6 years. I’m not going to sugarcoat it and say it’s always been sunshine & rainbows. I’ve wanted to kill him. Several times. That being said, I have no doubt God knew exactly what He was doing when He put the two of us together. I’ve never met a more devoted, selfless, caring, funny person. He makes me laugh and keeps my serious side in check, while always striving to be a better provider for our family. Needless-to-say, I’m proud to call him my husband.

But, what do I love about him most? He pushes me to be better. In everything.

No matter how well two people may be meant for one another, the fact of the matter is relationships are hard. You’re not always going to agree and you can bet you’re going to have some serious come to Jesus meetings.

Enter counseling.

Ryan & I at the Tough Mudder finish line.

Ryan & I at the Tough Mudder finish line.

Being Catholic, naturally I wanted to be married in the Catholic church. To do so, we were required to attend a minimum of 6 months of marriage preparation (a.k.a. marriage counseling) where we talked about all kinds of issues married couples fight about – money, kids, sex, death, etc. It was an eye opening experience, to say the least. Surprisingly though, we both enjoyed it.

The biggest takeaway for us was communication.

If you want to make it marriage – or any relationship – you better learn to communicate, & do so effectively. Sometimes, it’s knowing how to say something – be it using the right words or tone. And sometimes, it means learning when to shut up and when to apologize. (I might still be working on those.)

Bottom line: learn how to talk to those you love.

I’ve often joked that if Ryan and I were able to survive our first year of marriage, we have this whole marriage thing in the bag. (Except I’m really not joking.) Our first year of marriage wasn’t the typical honeymoon phase. I made it no secret that I wanted to divorce him everyday. (It was rough.) We managed to fit most of the hard things married couples fight about into our first year – like buying a house and having a baby. Throw getting used to “wedded bliss” and shared bank accounts out the window. Let’s do all the hard stuff. Now. And let’s not forget about the fact that I already had a 3 year old.

The good news is, we survived!

Ryan & I jumping the fire at Warrior Dash with our toys in tow. We carried these the entire race.

Ryan & I jumping the fire at Warrior Dash with our toys in tow. We carried these the entire race.

Fast forward a few years. We began communicating again, but on an entirely different level. We started running and doing obstacle races together – local 5Ks, Spartan Races, Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash – you name it. And that’s when the magic happened. There is something humbling – yet magical – about needing someone. Really, truly needing them. This was a foreign concept to me as I had always proudly proclaimed myself to be the confident, self-reliant woman my parents raised me to be – man optional. You see, I saw need as a weakness. And I’m not weak.

Except then I realized I did need my husband. I do need him. In more ways than I realize.

During many trying times along the race courses, we learned to rely on one another. To tell each other what we needed. To communicate openly. When I was struggling, he encouraged me. When he was doing well, I cheered him on. Isn’t that how all relationships should be? At the very core of a person you’ll find the need for acceptance. For love. For trust. These are a fraction of the qualities you hope to find in a spouse, a marriage, or a best friend. And I found them in a mud pit of all places. When I was looking my worst.

Ryan and I have long since started referring to obstacle course racing as our personal brand of torturous marriage counseling. And oh how we love it. Though we still have our fights & we occasionally want to strangle each other (hey, we’re both human), I find myself amazed at how much we continue to learn about one another and how much better we have become at communicating. We’re not perfect, but we’re getting better everyday.

Ryan & I right after finishing a Spartan Super in May. We ran back-to-back races that weekend!

Ryan & I right after finishing a Spartan Super in May. We ran back-to-back races that weekend!

Mostly, I’ve learned that it’s okay to need someone. And, I’m so thankful to have someone like Ryan who really is everything I need. He has always been my cheerleader (only don’t tell him I called him that), supporting me in everything I do and pushing me to be better at each role I play – be it wife, mom, daughter, sister or friend. And, I like to think I do the same for him.

Running and obstacle course racing may not be your thing, but I encourage all couples – married or not – to find something you can enjoy together. Use that to learn more about one another, to find patience, offer encouragement, communicate better. And maybe you’ll find the secret to happily ever after is not what you think & “counseling” isn’t so bad after all.

The CrossFit Games Open: Roosters Went to Work

If you’ve read my blog lately, you know that I’ve been [a little] obsessed with The CrossFit Games Open for the past 5 weeks. It’s been an emotional ride. And, if I’m being honest, a tough one. But, I guess that’s the point. Work hard. Reap the rewards.

Good news, we survived!

*Party Dance* Moving on…

Over the past year and a half, I’ve grown really close to the girls I WOD with. We like to call ourselves the Rooster Crew. Because, well, we get our butts up before real roosters do. Everyday. 5am is no joke. (Especially if you’re not a morning person, like me.)

Oddly enough, CrossFit made me a morning person. For real.

There’s no way I’d be waking up at 4:30 am. EVER. And then I’m like, “Oh, but this looks like a fun WOD. Getting up it is!” And really, if I’m not getting up to go to CrossFit, I’m not getting up . (Just ask my husband…)

Anyhow.

Roosters are always read to work.

Roosters are always ready to work.

As Roosters, we’re dedicated. Not only do we get up and show up, we work hard. As is to be expected, some days are better than others. Some days, we’re all feeling it & others, we probably should have stayed in bed. But for the most part, we’ve found our groove and we’re rockin’ and rollin’.

Personally, I love seeing my Rooster girls every day. I’ll spare you the mush & just highlight a few reasons why these girls rock. A) I’m not the only crazy person getting up that early to get my butt kicked. B) I’ve never met a more encouraging & positive group of people. C) They’re all pretty freaking hilarious.

But mostly, these girls impress me. Every. Single. Day.

Throughout The CrossFit Open, I definitely heard some negative talk. When double unders were introduced, I’m pretty sure more than one of them cursed. (Ok, maybe I did too.) And then came chest to bar pull-ups. And then some serious weight on deadlifts. And so on and so forth.

But you know what? These girls put on their big girl panties and went to work. I’m talking, going from “I’m not competitive,” to “I’m going to redo that WOD because I know I have more in me.”

Can I tell you how happy that makes me? Seriously.

And so, because I think they’re worth bragging about, I put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – to bring you the following PRs from my favorite group of girls, the CrossFit Bridge City Rooster Crew:

Ally

  1. “Got” double unders (a.k.a. – Did them in a WOD for the first time ever).
  2. PR’d her deadlift – AND did 20 reps with the weight in Open WOD 14.3.
  3. Used a 20″ box for the first time.

Erin:

  1. PR’d her deadlift at 155# pounds in 14.3.
  2. Did toes to bar for the first time in 14.4.
  3. Did 65# in an overhead squat for the first time for Open WOD 14.2.

Pam:

  1. Did her first ever chest to bar pull-up in Open WOD 14.2.
  2. Did toes to bar for the first time in 14.4.
  3. PR’d her deadlift by 20#.

Dawn:

  1. Improved her score by 32 reps on her redo of 14.1.
  2. Received an invitation to participate in the SETX Invitational & Open Championship for placing in the top 30 out of the 8 area CrossFit affiliates in Southeast Texas.
  3. Did all 50 toes to bar (and she says this is her goat) & managed to knock out 18 cleans at 95# in 14.4.

Melissa:

  1. Did deadlifts at 155# in a WOD for the first time in 14.3.
  2. Did toes to bar for the first time in 14.4.
  3. Showed a competitive side I’ve never seen before, coming in 7th out of all of the girls who competed in The Open from CrossFit Bridge City.

Christina:

  1. Did deadlifts for the first time in a WOD since injuring her back just 3 months prior to The Open. And rocked them, coming in 6th overall for that WOD here in SETX.
  2. Placed in the top 200 in the South Central Region for Open WOD 14.5 at 178.
  3. Finished The Open in the top 14% of the South Central Region.

If you see them, be sure to give them a high five. It’s well deserved. And, a special shout-out to some of our other girls who didn’t participate in The Open but who make our day each morning with their smiling faces – Brandi, Amy, Sheri. Keep kicking butt girls!

For the rest of you who competed, what are you proud of? What PRs did you hit?