Behind the Battle

It was the night before Day 1 of the Battle of the East and all the athletes were gathered for the briefing. I had the weekend all planned out. But of course, something always comes up and plans have to change. On top of finding out that we would be starting at 1pm instead of 9am, I get a call from home that my baby girl has a very high fever. I kept my eye on the time as the minutes passed during the briefing; it was way past my daughter’s bedtime. I was just waiting to rush back home.

I should mention that my daughter wouldn’t have a good night sleep unless I’m there with her, and she still breastfeeds. It’s worth mentioning too that I’m a full time hands-on mom, a decision we took while I was pregnant.

It’s 6am on Friday and I’m wide-awake. A few minutes later, my baby is up at her usual time. Her fever was down but she had developed a strong cough. As for myself, my daughter must have passed on her symptoms to me because I had the biggest headache and a blocked nose. As we went about our usual morning routine, I couldn’t help but feel restless all morning just waiting for the time to come for me to head out to Battle. All my bags were ready and packed the night before, along with a meal, snack and protein shake.

At 11:30, I dropped off my daughter to stay with my sister-in-law. Who happens to be the best sister-in-law anyone could ask for!

Event 1 “Waves”:
50m swim
50cal. Airdyne
50m Farmer carry

I was more worried about how silly my islamic swimsuit looked than the actual workout. That head cover was so tight around my face that it looked swollen. Despite the fact that I haven’t swam for over a year, the open water swim wasn’t as bad as I thought. I was surprisingly in the lead for most of it, until on the way back I got passed by one of the competitors. I remember swallowing so much salt water. From the water we jumped on to the airdyne. We were told we should adjust the seat if we want since it was set to the lowest height. I didn’t want to waste anytime so I started on the bike…big mistake. The seat was way too low for me that within seconds my legs felt tight and sore. I could hear the commentator saying how many calories my competitors had left and I knew I lost the lead. I kept going hard in the hopes of catching up and grabbing a top 3 spot for the workout. Racing through the farmer carry and final sprint, I placed 3rd only seconds behind 2nd place. I was glad that was over and couldn’t wait to change out of the tight swim cap.

Event 2 “Ground to Overhead”:
1 rep max ground to overhead

I was looking forward to this workout since they announced it. I knew I could gain some points and advance myself on the leaderboard with this one. I had an idea of just how strong my competitors were. So I was hoping to place first or tie for first, and that’s exactly what happened. 3,2,1, GO and I was still trying to figure out how to add up the plates pounds vs. kilos! Finally, I cleaned the 185lb/85kg at my first attempt, getting a new PR, but I failed the jerk. I considered to lower the weight but my coach, Yousef, told me to take another attempt. Success. It felt so good. With a minute remaining, I decided to give 190lbs/90kg a go. I was able to catch the bar before falling backwards in the squat. It was fine and I felt happy. My 185lb lift got me tied for first place. The best part of this event was the roar of the crowd. That energy was amazing.

One more workout left and I call my sister-in-law. I had previously told her NOT to update me about my baby girl so I can stay focused. She assures me they’re having fun and I shouldn’t worry about anything.

Event 3 “There and back again”:
50cal row (buy-in)
10 Overhead squat
15 box jump overs
20 wall ball
10 burpee pull-up
20 wall ball
15 box jump overs
10 Overhead squat 

I’ve done so many workouts similar to this one in training, but it doesn’t mean I was looking forward to it. I’m not a fan of 90% of the movements. We started with the rower and I unexpectedly came off it first. I was in the lead until I got to the wall balls. I was doing fine when suddenly the 14lb ball came down and smashed my face. Nothing dramatic, this happens to many people during wall balls. But this time it was different.

A few days before the competition, I fractured my nose. Fine, I’ll confess the stupid mistake I did that gave me a fractured nose and a black eye. The day after our first workout was announced on Instagram, I wanted to try it out. So I grabbed the farmer carry bars to take outside the box, so I could sprint. Now I haven’t picked up this type of bar before. So I thought I’ll just clean it into a front rack and carry it out. That’s when the handle of the bar hit my nose so hard I got dizzy. After washing and trying to stop the blood I noticed the gash on my nose and went to the hospital. That’s when I was told it was fractured. I thought I’ll deal with it after the weekend is over.

Back to the competition floor, the wall ball came smashing onto my face hitting my nose. The pain shocked me and I thought I broke my nose and was probably bleeding. I dropped the ball and saw a stain on it thinking it was blood (later realizing it’s only sweat). I lost focus and felt I couldn’t breath and even considered stopping! Trying to get back into the game, the only sound I could hear was my coach, Yousef, shouting for me to get moving. So I picked up the ball and went for another rep, but dropped the ball and it rolled into the lane next to me. Thankfully I was able to refocus and finish those wall balls. I was rep for rep with one of my competitors but I beat her by a few seconds collapsing on the finish line.

It was hard to breath for a while after hitting my nose and I went to grab some ice and check if I was bleeding. Thank goodness it was fine, just a little red and swollen.

Within ten minutes of completing the last workout for Day 1, I rushed to my car to head back home. It was 6pm and my baby’s bedtime is at 7:30.

Friday night was a terrible night for me. My daughter had a fever again so she was constantly waking up at night crying. And I was having trouble falling asleep because of my blocked nose (from being sick, not the fracture). I was up at 4am and decided being awake was more comfortable than trying to sleep while sick. A couple of hours later, my daughter was up. I left her with my sister-in-law early this time and headed out. First workout of Day 2 was at 9am.

Event 4 “Pistols”
100-80-60 Double-unders
30-20-10 pistols
15-10-5 axle bar shoulder to overhead

This was going to be fun and quick. I stumbled on my first round of DU but picked up the pace with the pistols. With seconds remaining I jumped on the finish mat and was the only athlete to complete it within the time cap.

Still sweating from the workout, at 9:15am I headed back to my car to go back home. The next workout was at 1pm. That gave me enough time to play with my daughter, put her down for a nap, and for me to eat an early lunch before going back again at 12pm.

Event 5 “Caveman”:
30 over the shoulder stone carry
2 rope climbs after each 10 reps

I couldn’t wait to do this workout for two reasons. First, the stone carry looked like fun and I haven’t tried that movement before. Second, I wanted to see the improvement in my rope climb. The last time I climbed a 15ft rope was in Korea at the CrossFit Games Asia Regional 2013. At that time I never climbed a rope before and struggled to get the reps. I would reach the top and slide back down. But now, I was very confident with my rope climb technique. The height of the rope we have in our box is less than 10ft but I’ve been practicing anyways. Event 5 was a tight race and a close finish, I came in second.

Event 6 “The Threesome”:
Handstand push-ups
Squat snatch
Ring chest-to-bar pull-up
Chest-to-bar pull-up

I was extremely anxious and nervous before this event. I checked the leaderboard and from what I calculated I believed I had to finish first in this event if I wanted to keep the top spot. With handstand push-ups (HSPU) in the first part of the workout, I knew I was going to struggle. They are a weakness of mine and I’m still trying to work on them. As expected, I got stuck at the handstand push-ups, while my competitors moved on to the second part of the workout. I was feeling defeated, like my first place spot was slipping away from me. But I didn’t give up. Finally finishing the HSPU and deadlifts, I moved on to the squat snatches. By this time my legs just didn’t want to work anymore. I kept dropping the bar until I was able to focus and get the reps. I was able to catch up with some of my competitors and managed to almost finish the second round of ring chest-to bar before the time cap. I came in third place for this workout.

My coach, Yousef, told me he was proud of my performance no matter what. But as I signed my scoresheet for the last time, I was feeling upset that I might lose my first place win. My girls, our CrossFit Q8 members, were constantly checking the leaderboard and told me I was first, but I wasn’t so sure. It was a tie for first place, I later found out the tiebreaker was the person with the most top finishes overall.

There was some time before the award ceremony, so I called my sister-in-law. She was on her way with my baby girl. I was so happy to see her and of course she loved the atmosphere because after all she is a CrossFit baby!

The Awards:

From the moment they called out my name as the “2015 GCC Women Battle of the East champion” to walking off the podium, it was all a blur. I remember the loud cheering and chanting from the crowd. While carrying my daughter on my hip, I accepted my medal and cheque and congratulated my competitors who stood with me on the podium.

I’ve worked hard for this moment. So many sacrifices were made. I set out to win and I did it. I won for myself, for my daughter, for the members of CrossFit Q8, but most importantly, I wanted this win for my coach. Because without him, I wouldn’t be the person and athlete I am today.
It was a great weekend. Filled with exciting challenges, new friendships, and great athletes. The GCC women killed it and I’m sure we put on a show more than anyone expected. It was a pleasure competing alongside these amazing girls.
Thank you to everyone who supported me this weekend.


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