It’s easy to think you know someone inside and out.
Then they go and do something to shock you.
Even when you swear you know them, I guarantee you may have underestimated them.
I recently made that mistake.
My girlfriend of over 10 years, Harriet is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. I thought I knew her so well.
We’ve gone from immature high school sweethearts to even more childish adults.
In the time I’ve known her, she’s flourished into the most amazing woman.
She’s changed in so many important ways:
-She no longer ruins every steak by having it well done.
-She’s coming round to not destroying her coffee with milk and sugar.
-And most importantly she puts up with my crap (somehow).
Despite all that, we have always disagreed on one big thing - CrossFit.
To her, it was scary, going to make her ‘massive’ and dangerous.
Being a normal human being, I didn’t push her into starting, but alas, she began at CrossFit Aldgate.
One Saturday, she took part in her first CrossFit-style competition. It’s a team event called Summer Social Throwdown; an outdoor hybrid of a fitness competition and a massive drinking/partying session which follows.
In a super condensed version of events, we blitzed through the first 4 events of the day in beautiful sunshine and heat, then somehow ended up in the final.
If she’d been out of her comfort zone to begin with, she was in a whole new dimension now. A few hundred pairs of eyes watching as 6 teams at a time completed a brutal chipper with a bunch of synchro squats, kettlebell snatches, burpees and slam balls.
Oh, and rope climbs.
As a buy-in, everyone in the team had to climb a 20ft rope which, Games style, stopped 4ft or so from the ground.
Harriet had never even attempted to climb a rope before.
She was nervous.
Of letting her team down (two of us are coaches, and the third is a very good athlete).
Of failing in front of hundreds of CrossFitters.
Of embarrassing herself.
She did NOT want to do it.
I had to come up with a way of getting her to try whilst giving her the option to save face if needed.
We agreed that if she tried and failed that rope clims 3 times we, as a team, would withdraw from the competition, so she wouldn’t have to spend the remainder of a 15 minute time-cap sat at the bottom of the rope with everyone feeling sorry for her.
We did the initial run as a team.
Lee jumped up, got his rope climb.
First attempt, she jumped, grabbed on and kicked the bottom of the rope about. She wasn’t high enough to get enough rope between her feet.
Jump, half a shift and slid down to the mat again.
She jumped high. Brought her feet up, got half a shift up.
She looked as if she was going to make it
Then her feet slipped and she dropped back onto the mat.
The judge knew our rule and I went to him to withdraw from the WOD.
Until I saw the thing I had overlooked for so long; the fiercest determination I have seen in so long.
The last time I saw this was when I was on exercise as a Royal Marines Commando.
It’s something which only comes out when we are truly at our physical and emotional limits.
The inner fight. The hidden reserve.
She threw back her shoulders and gripped the rope. 4 solid shifts later, she touched the beam at the top of the rig.
Harriet said later she didn’t want to come down from that rope.
She went on, to not just finish that one rope climb, but another two on top of that.
When we got to the end of the time-cap, she had rope burns on her shins, cramping quads, and a grin from ear to ear.
There was no golden mindset nugget from me, certainly.
I think she accessed the almost primal fight we ALL have in us.
This is no ‘how to’ guide here, just a word of advice:
When you think there is nothing left, when you think you are doomed for failure, when you hurt and you’re in pain and fear encapsulates you…
…take one step forward.
Just one small step.
And you may just realise that not only do others underestimate you, but you may have underestimated yourself too.
P.s. This fight is something you can train in yourself. You just have to look for it.