I love going to and competing in CrossFit competitions. The energy is palpable. The performances amazing. My first husband Eric used to complain that I had to make everything I did a competition. He was not wrong. We bought Nordic skis and I immediately signed up for some races. I love testing my limits, and I love comparing my limits to the limits of others. He liked meandering through the woods looking at things.
We all have our preferences.
I am usually the oldest one at the competitions I attend. I do not seek out this reality, there are just not a lot of female competitors my age. This is changing. I have been the second oldest in my last two competitions. At one, I was just several months younger. This past weekend I was a decade younger.
Her name is Janet.
An athlete from a CrossFit gym on the Cape (Cod for you non-New Englanders) she has been active in this sport for about as long as I have. She, too, finds herself the oldest at most competitions she attends. At almost 70 years of age this will likely be her reality 99% of the time.
After the disaster of my December, I had no expectation coming into this competition. With a field of 8 women in my division, (55+ scaled) my goal was to place top half. There are never that many women my age in competitions. I am typically 20 years older than the next person in the “masters” division. Masters typically start at age 35 so I can still be 24 years older than anyone else.
Enter Exclamation CrossFit.
This gym in Burlington MA hosts several competitions a year. All of them have age group divisions representing young to old. This competition, called Muscles and Mascara, was an all-female event which is why I think so many older women showed up. There were more over 40 entries than under. This is unheard of.
I was one of 6 women in my division between 55 and 59. Another was 60. Then there was Janet. She is a few months away from turning 70. Although we are all over 55, Janet was still old enough to be the youngest in our division’s teen aged baby mama. She was recognized at the beginning of the competition and I let her know how much I admired her. I asked her if she had any goals for the day, she replied “to do my best”.
She placed 4th.
That was my initial goal, to be in the top half of the field. Her competition lane was right in from of me. As we went through the workouts, I realized how close she was to me each time. I would pull away as the clock ticked by, (I am really good at that.) I ended up winning. I was incredibly surprised. Although the weights were not challenging for me, the RX women did not likely over struggle with their weights either.
My lungs took the brunt.
Although the workouts were short, they were lung burners. This always works in my favor. Not just because I have a strong endurance background as a distance runner, but because as a runner I can complete a workout without stopping. Races do not have time outs or three breath breaks. The gun goes off and you run until you are finished. This is a rare skill in the sport of CrossFit. Like many other sports running is seen as punishment. When there is running in a workout the complaints are frequent and loud.
But back to Janet.
She was affable, supportive and strong. She enjoyed her status at the matriarch of the competition but in a very modest way. She was as impressed with me as I was with her. The three of us on the podium were the next three oldest women in our division. Two 59-year-olds and a 60-year-old. In our first event I yelled “ok kids, watch how the grown-ups do it!”
My teammates from both Amoskeag and Amesbury were a bit amused. It was fun to watch them watch us. They did well too. Amoskeag Christina won her division and Amesbury Erin was second. I clearly hang out with the cream of the crop.
My overriding emotion coming off the win, and the experience in general was one of relief. Jack is young. I do not want to be his elderly mother. I will always be his old lady baby mama, but 70 does not have to look old and feeble. It can look strong and agile. Don’t believe me? Just watch Janet!