You learn a lot about the athletes you ordinarily compete against when you team up with them for a competition, like I did with Brittany Brown at the CrossFit Fort Vancouver Invitational two weeks ago in Vancouver, Washington.
In short, what I learned about Brittany is that she has mastered the art of maintaining a cool, casual, calm demeanour while she competes fiercely.
I was so nervous for those snatches during the snatch ladder event. More nervous than normal for an event at a local competition. The first bar was light—95 lb. I obviously wasn’t scared to miss the lifts, but as I hit my 4 reps, my body was shaking. The same went for the next two bars.
By the time we got to the 135 lb. bar, I started to calm down and get into the groove, but I don’t think I took a breath the entire snatch ladder until my sigh of relief when I hit 160 lb.
Brittany's headspace looked different. She stepped up to the the bar and her 170 lb. snatch looked so clean and crisp and downright effortless that I was overcome with a wave of both snatch and mental game envy.
What's tougher when you're competing, though, is staying calm when something goes wrong, which Brittany has also mastered. During that same snatch event, she missed her first attempt at 165 lb. but didn’t look even remotely worried. Her boyfriend had warned me before the workout that she’d probably miss a lift but not to worry when she did because she wouldn’t be worried.
He was right. She only had 20 seconds left to hit her second attempt at 165 lb.—a light weight for her—and keep us in the game, but she didn’t look phased. She casually approached the bar and nailed it.
After the event, my parents, who don’t know much about Olympic weightlifting astutely remarked, “Brittany’s snatch looks easier and calmer than yours.”
“Thanks mom and dad.”
The same was true when her goggles broke just before the swim event. Luckily I had a second pair, but before I told her I did, she looked at her broken goggles and shrugged. While it’s so easy to freak out at a CrossFit competition when things don’t go your way, this girl doesn’t seem to have the freakout gear inside of her.
This isn’t to say she lacks effort or desire. It’s just that she’s found a way to channel her passion and intensity and keep a cool head, allowing her to be an incredibly smart competitor. You simply won’t see her going out too hard, losing her mind and self-destructing in a workout.
She has found a way to be casually fierce.