Last spring, Kristan Clever, Rebecca Voigt and Valerie Voboril stood on the podium at the 2012 Southern California Regional. Since Clever, a past champion, finished in the top three, CrossFit offered a berth to the fourth-place finisher.
For three days, Andrea Ager contended with some of the world’s fittest women and hoped, against the odds, that she may manage to push Lindsey Valenzuela, Katie Hogan, Maddy Curley and any other challenger from the final Games-qualifying spot.
But Valenzuela wouldn’t budge. After the final event, they tallied the point totals: Andrea Ager had 29 and Lindsey Valenzuela had 27.
While Valenzuela screamed in relief, Ager was quietly devastated.
Ager returned to training as usual and she hasn’t given up on qualifying as an individual for the CrossFit Games. Once again, she’s ahead of the pack in the Open. After three weeks of competition, she sits in first in SoCal and fifth worldwide.
Ager has Regionals on her mind.
“For us in SoCal, Regionals (are) the Games,” Ager says. “Any of us might not advance. That is very real.”
“None of us are comfortable with each other anymore,” Ager says of the other top-females in the Region. “We used to compete against each other all year at local competitions. Now, we’re secretive. I think we will expose ourselves during the Open.”
However, she isn’t secretive about her goals for Regionals this year.
“Regionals won’t be easy. I’m not just trying to get in the top 48; I’m trying to get in the top heat.”
To achieve this goal, she has been targeting her weaknesses, specifically lifting. Last year, her worst finish was in the Snatch Ladder. With a 130-lb. snatch, she took 11th in the event. To finish in the top five, she would have had to snatch 150 lb. or more. To win, she would have needed to out-snatch Valenzuela, who lifted 175 lb. with ease.
For 12 weeks after, she spent most of her time in the gym deadlifting, cleaning, squatting and pressing, she says.
Knowing that the others were training for the Games, Ager took full advantage of those extra two months to target her strength training.
The extra time spent on her lifts and the additional work she has put in with her weightlifting coach, Sean Waxman, has paid off. Two weeks ago, she snatched 120 lb. nine times on 13.1, which was good enough for third in SoCal.
To complement her lifting, she turned to CrossFit Level 1 Seminar Trainer, Doug Chapman, for classic CrossFit programming.
Chapman is coach to second-fittest woman on earth, Julie Foucher, and is known to focus on virtuosity. If you’re not doing the basics beautifully, he’ll return you to square one. He also tends to crank up the volume and skill work.
Now, Ager combines Chapman’s programming, which she completes on her own, with Oly lifting with Waxman three days a week, two hours each day.
At 25 years old, Ager says she has gotten fitter, but also more mature over the last year. She attributes this to being a coach herself, and interning with the CrossFit Level 1 Seminar Team.
“I can’t believe how much teaching has helped,” Ager says. “Knowing what looks good, where the transition is, what sticks out to me and what I need to work on fixing is all important and key to me.”
She’s also become a better, more positive coach to herself.
She often tells herself, “This is easy. You’ve done this a hundred times. This has been way harder. You’re fit enough. You did the work. This is the test.”
She has also changed her approach to the Open. This year, she’s only giving herself one shot at each Open Workout.
“I expect to go in, know what I want and get it,” Ager says. “I’m not guessing, ‘I want this many reps by this time.’ If I go once, it’s about going hard.”
It’s a strategy she hopes will prepare her for Regionals. In Del Mar, Calif., she’ll only have one chance. And repeating the Open Workouts could derail her programming, she says.
“I’m not strong enough to take five weeks off for the Open,” she says.
The repeat workouts have helped her gauge where she’s at as a CrossFit athlete. While she has improved, so have many of the top women in SoCal, she says.
“My scores (in the Open) are far better than last year’s, so that means I’m improving a lot. But, my places and ranking are the same, which proves I’m just keeping up with the crowd.”
With two workouts to go, she’s focused on the competition and the stage ahead.
“I will be taking Regionals very seriously. I am under no false assumption that the testing at Regionals will be similar to the Open. Every second of this year has gone to focusing my training to be the most well rounded athlete I can be. There are no offseasons, and I'm not afraid to say I'm taking the Open very seriously, too.”
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