Knowing that only three women from SoCal get to move on means I really have to ask myself, "Do I have was it takes to place in the top 3 at Regionals?"
It doesn’t take much. For elite athletes performing at the edge of their capabilities, a small mistake, a slight miscalculation, or even just bad luck can ruin training.
In 2009, Valerie Mackenzie Voboril showed up for the CrossFit Games in Aromas, Calif. The athletes gathered in the dark on Friday morning to find out the first two workouts: a 7.1K trail run and a deadlift ladder.
Although a manageable distance, the run proved to be brutal. Once leaving the paved area, the athletes faced treacherous terrain leading up to a hill so steep many had to run on all fours, crawling their way up the massive ranch hill. The finish line saw 2008 Games champion Jason Khalipa fall with just one mile left of the run. He was not alone.
Just 100 meters from the finish line, Voboril began to sway and lose her balance as she stumbled toward the awaiting judges. A few feet from the end she dropped to her knees. Determined to complete the workout, Voboril literally somersaulted across the finish. It was one of the defining moments of the 2009 Games and a moment of inspiration to all who watched.
That fall didn’t just cost Voboril a few seconds of time in the first workout, it also dashed her hopes for the Fittest on Earth crown. The on-site medical staff examined Voboril and decided she was not well enough to continue on in the competition.
In 2010, Voboril found herself back at the big event, and this time she didn’t let any opportunities slip past her. After a grueling weekend and nine top 10 finishes, she stood on the podium alongside Kristan Clever and Annie Thorisdottir as the third fittest woman.
2011 brought about a new type of obstacle. This time, Voboril found she would be welcoming a baby girl. Ever the competitor, she decided to not only continue to train, but also to compete while pregnant.
Even at five months pregnant, she completed the 2011 Open, and it’s likely she could have qualified for Regionals if she would have been allowed to do toes-to-bar in 11.5. Despite this restriction, Voboril still managed to finish 101st in the 2011 Open. “I had strict orders from my doctor to avoid all abdominal work,” she says.
Voboril had her baby girl late in 2011, but it wasn’t without some minor complications. As a result, she was not able to get back to the sport she so loves as quickly as she would have liked.
“Because I had a c-section (not scheduled) I was not to workout at all for six weeks. Five weeks post-op I came in to stretch. Big mistake. I was out completely for two months before I started back. I had to go very slowly and very gently. It was frustrating,” she says.
Since giving birth, Voboril has been back to training, but with the additional demands of motherhood, she’s been spending less time at the gym. She’s found that her countless hours of gym time of the past are now whittled down to only a fraction of that time.
With her CrossFit community rallied around her, she’s found that her DogTown coaches and box mates have stepped up in a big way to help her make her training time as efficient as possible. Despite many rushed workouts, she is quick to point out the tremendous environment and role models her daughter is being exposed to right from the start.
“Before my daughter, I would spend hours at the gym training and socializing,” she says. “I now have to be much more judicious with my time ... Luckily, I have an amazing support system in my husband and all the members and owners of DogTown who help to look after, entertain, and care for Vin so that I can have efficient training sessions. I love that she's growing up surrounded by strong, healthy, fit women and the community atmosphere.”
Her focus has always been to make a run at the 2012 CrossFit Games, and she decided to use the Open as a barometer for where she stood in the competitive circles. Once the dust settled on the Open, she earned three top five finishes in Southern California, including a 1st place finish on 12.5. She concluded the Open in 7th place in the region overall.
Most athletes would greet a strong 7th place Open finish with an unwavering decision to punch that ticket as an individual at Regionals. With Voboril, there was much more to the decision than simply freeing up the weekend to compete.
Voboril has done this before. She knows what it’s like to compete against the very best, and how even the best-prepared athletes can have their hopes dashed by bad luck. Voboril thought about how much time she’d have to spend away from her husband and baby when training.
She had to decide whether or not she would accept an invitation to participate on the television show WipeOut and whether or not she would compete on the DogTown team. “[My daughter] will only be this young with all these amazing changes once,” she says.
DogTown’s team posted some notable numbers en route to their Regionals qualification. With her scores contributing to the success of her team in the Open, the DogTown team has just as much chance as any to move on to The Home Depot Center in July.
Voboril understood she has some legitimate competitors to beat out if she wanted to make the CrossFit Games. “Knowing that only three women from SoCal get to move on means I really have to ask myself, ‘Do I/will I have what it takes to place in the top three at Regionals?’ I participated in the Open this year and used it as a way to assess my strengths and my opportunities. I was hoping that it would show that I could hang in there,” she says.
After much consideration, Voboril finally decided to compete in the 2012 Southern California Regional as an individual. It was a tough decision for her to make, but ultimately it came down to simply following her heart. She summed it up as efficiently as expected by a top tier CrossFitter. “I’m going to go for individuals. I'll be bummed if I don't give it a shot.”
Valerie Voboril is yet another name to keep an eye out for this year in Pomona. She brings with her years of CrossFit Games-level experience, the determination that drove her finish that grueling run in Aromas, and a new source of inspiration in her baby daughter.