“Those lunges were something I knew I could just push through. But I will say that the crowd made me believe that I could do anything. They were awesome.” ~Wall on Regional Event 6
As her husband boarded the plane for eastern Afghanistan, Lindy Wall weighed her options. The newlywed could think of all that may happen to an Army medic in country, or she could focus on CrossFit.
In January, Wall chose CrossFit, and in June she qualified for the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games.
“I told Tim, ‘I think I am really going to try and train hard and see if I can go for it,’” she says. “He thought it was a great idea and thought it was a great way for me to stay occupied and busy while he was gone.”
Wall’s husband, 2nd Lt. Tim Wall, is finishing his deployment set to arrive home in November. By then she’ll have competed in her first Games, just more than two years after her doctor told her she, “would never have a normal athletic life again.”
In 2011, during the fourth week of the Open, Wall — nee Barber — was sitting in third place in the Central East. While training, Wall hit a back squat like she had more times than she can remember. But something went wrong and positioning turned to disaster. Her season ended on one bad rep, she was later diagnosed with Spondylolisthesis, Scoliosis, Spina Bifida and a fractured L-5 vertebra.
Wall accepted the news like an old person too young for their nursing home, too weak to fight back. Quietly, she went on about her life. Short walks around the block became longer ... and livelier. One grocery bag became two, and competition, eventually, didn’t seem to look like something she used to do anymore.
“I came back,” she says.
The Central East Regional in 2012 was her final obstacle. The first true test for her once broken back, complete with back squats, deadlifts and more. Not only did Wall experience little to no trouble, but the once forbidden movements nearly yielded to the Regional rookie. She left the Ohio Expo Center in seventh place.
“At Regionals in 2012, with the back squats, I knew it would be difficult,” she says. “I know what I can do and I accept that. That is why I know if any of those pop up at the Games this year, I will just have to work extra hard on the other events.”
Building a Wall
After her first Regional experience, Wall hired coach Jeff Tincher, from CrossFit Fairfax to help with Games preparation. She says the 2008 and 2009 CrossFit Games competitor was a good fit for her because, “he can come up with things for me to do that I could never dream of. He keeps it challenging for me, but also fresh so I don’t get bored.”
The former soccer player says her legs and lungs were as conditioned as a 2-year-old thoroughbred in the Derby when she began working with Tincher, it was her upper body that needed love.
“My first day of CrossFit I could not even do one push-up,” she says. “Upper body and gymnastic movements are where I need the most work.”
Now, Wall can enter a room and challenge random humans to a push-up showdown like an old-timey gunslinger to a duel. Fresh, she can hit 20 push-ups in a row. She can also link nearly 10 muscle-ups, and push-jerk 175 lbs. for a single. She credits Tincher’s CrossFit experience and workload targeted to her specific issues as the successful catalyst.
“My weaknesses will always be the same, but compared to last year, my weaknesses are way stronger than before,” she says. “Jeff has me working on lots of different skills, and incorporates a lot of tabata work to get in a high volume of reps with those movements.”
Wall and Tincher’s efforts shined early in Event 1.
If workouts were shoes, Jackie would be Wall’s favorite fit and color. It almost molded to her as she came off the rig still breathing, in third place at 6:24. She was just behind CrossFit Games competitors Michelle Kinney in second, and Lindsey Smith in first.
Yet Regionals was about seven events, not one. And even CrossFitters can get gifts tailored just for them.
Wall’s effort went unnoticed. Since no one was watching, no one was even surprised when she followed her Event 1 peak, with an overhead squat valley. She landed 17th in Event 2 and tied for eighth on Event 3.
Even though she wasn’t in contention after Day 1, she wasn’t worried. She says from the moment the Regional Events were released, “my coach and I thought we could really do this.”
The 100s was Wall’s first effort in really doing it. She tied for first with Jennifer Smith, and began a comeback that was more Rambo than ninja. She says the deadlift/box jump couplet didn’t scare her because she practiced it, but it did remind her of the injury that’s held her back in the past.
“When I got into the round of 15, I could really feel my back starting to give out,” she says. “The last thing I wanted to do was start to round my back or hyperextend at the top. I slowed down a little bit and tried to complete the reps as safely as possible. By the round of nine, it was completely giving out on me and I started to fail reps. I just tried to stay calm and take each rep slower and make them count.”
She stepped on her platform in eighth place, one day remaining between her and the Games.
By the final two events, the Smiths (Jennifer and Lindsey) had slipped a little. Kinney had come on, and Julianne Broadbent was desperate.
Wall didn’t seem to notice as she lunged by all of them in Event 6, taking her second, first-place finish of the weekend, leaving cleans, climbs and sprints to decide her fate.
“Those lunges were something I knew I could just push through,” she says. “But I will say that the crowd made me believe that I could do anything. They were awesome.”
Four minutes and 15 seconds after the final event started, Wall earned her third first-place finish to qualify for the Games.
“I was more excited for the last event than I was nervous,” she says. “All Jeff had to say, which is what he said before every workout, ‘You got this. Run your race lady.’ Under the rope, I just kept telling myself that this is fun. Go out there, stay relaxed and enjoy the competition. Competing is the fun part, it makes all the yearlong training worth it.”
She climbed the podium and thought of her husband.
“It was surreal,” she says. “Standing there and knowing that I did it. I put the hard work in and was going to California. Tim was there in my heart, he always is.”
Wall may be a CrossFit Games rookie this year, but she’s proven that nothing holds her back. She says her husband may even get to watch her efforts unfold.
“They are hoping to get the live stream ready so that he can see at least a few events,” she says. “Either way, he is never far from me and I am just so excited to get out to California and make him proud.”