Yesterday marked the beginning of the 2018 CrossFit Games. I’m not a big sports fanatic. I don’t have a football or baseball team (I come from a Bengals and Reds family). I cheer for the Cavaliers out of affection for all the Cleveland people I knew in undergrad. But I don’t really think about it much. That said, we (Bruno and myself) are avidly watching the CrossFit Games this year. I’m not cheering for anyone in particular, because I love them all. However, I might love someone a teensy more today than I did yesterday.
Beginning of the day yesterday I had never heard of Alessandra Pichelli. Even before we started CrossFit, Bruno and I used to watch the games documentaries on Netflix just because it is inspiring. So I knew the big names. I knew Katrin. I knew Annie. I knew Tia. (Full disclosure: I do not really follow the males. Same with running. I’m not sure why that is.) Pichelli I had never heard of until they showed her suffering on the rowing machine last night.
The last event for day one was to row a marathon. Athletes had a four hour time cap and none of the usual tools (like headphones and your own music) to get through an incredibly mentally and physically taxing event. We had the event on as background, but for an event that seemed dull, we were glued to the television.
When they showed Pichelli she was rowing with one hand. The commentators were questioning whether she would be able to finish within four hours. She was cramping in her legs and her arms. I have tried to find pictures, but I can tell you this. She looked in agony.
But she just kept going. Later they showed her back to using two arms, still in pain, but looking better. Pichelli was the last female to finish, but watching her fight to finish was the best part of the games yesterday. I mean, how do you continue when your body is telling you to stop? How do just keep going on when you know you have so much left to go? When there is nothing to take your mind from what is going on? The amount of mental strength she showed was more courageous, more impressive, and more inspirational than the women that seemed to have a much easier go of it.
Sometimes the way to success is to grit it out and just not quit, whether that is in a marathon row, an actual marathon, or even, dissertation writing and graduate school. I cannot count how many times in the last five years I also “cramped” up, didn’t think I could do it, and would just try to do whatever I could to have some forward progress. In whatever form, we’ve all been there and will be there again.
And the next time I reach that point, I’ll think of Alessandra Pichelli on that rower.