When Michele Letendre set out for the Games this year, she wanted to focus on the experience. In 2011, she felt too nervous, too anxious, to really enjoy herself, she says. Letendre had the opportunity to shift her perspective for 2012. A few weeks after the Games, she has had time to digest what she witnessed and felt in Carson, Calif., and set a direction for the next year.
Letendre says she thoroughly enjoyed her Games experience. "Every event I competed in was fun, very challenging, a bit frustrating, and most definitely harder than they looked,” she recalls. “It was an amalgamation of skills, strength and all things CrossFit and I learned a lot from every single one."
Her favorite workout? “The chipper.” Her least favorite? “Med balls and HSPU. "I loved it on paper, but I experienced something I had never experienced in any workout or even competition: complete failure. I felt completely bare during that workout."
Like many other athletes, she was surprised by the Pendleton Events. "That was a hard pill to swallow because I really don't like endurance events. I quickly came to terms with it and was eager to start," she says.
Letendre says she thought about completing a triathlon a few years ago, but didn't get the opportunity. Now that she had one, she was intimidated. "Being a swimmer, I loved that the swim was a bit longer than last year, but that run was something else. It wasn't difficult in the physical sense, but it was such a mental challenge,” she explains. “It’s easy to fall into a negative place in your head when you are tired, hot and thirsty."
Letendre focused on the support of her friends and community to help pull her through. She received a video message the night before, which contained images of her friends cheering her on. Thinking of that video kept her going. "I was so proud of myself after that event," she says.
Overall, Michele Letendre is satisfied with her Games performance, and is using it to fuel her training for the next year. Heading into the 2012 Games, Letendre was in much better shape than the year before. "When I came out of the Games last year, I had to get faster, and I did."
That focus on constant progression helps her come to terms with her training plan: she identifies her weaknesses, and uses the year to address them.
Letendre says she had certain expectations and goals heading to Carson. "I had a goal of reaching the top 10, and clearly I did not achieve that particular goal. But when I look back, I did the best I could with the tools I had and I feel I held up well.”
She's happy her conditioning improved over last year, but Pendleton left its mark. "I've already got in contact with a track coach to improve my running and agility. I'm also going to start climbing in the hope of getting over my fear of heights,” she says.
Letendre is happy to get back to training with the friends whose video helped push her through that run. The Games reinforced the idea that, "the goal isn't the end of the road, the goal is the road. I had such an amazing year training for the Games. I achieved so much and made so many great improvements."
She’s now looking to move forward. "So, if I only look at the Games, yes, I think I can do better and I will do everything I can this year to improve, but when I look at the past year's work that I put in, I could not be more proud."