By her coach’s account, Sue Habbe had a few choice words after winning the Masters 45-49 division at the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games.
“Last year, she got done and said, ‘I’ll never fuckin’ do that again,’” recounts the jovial John Petroff, a firefighter in Missoula, Mont.
Two months later, Habbe changed her mind.
“I just give her time and she’ll probably compete, knowing her,” he says.
And so she did.
Habbe returned to the Games, this time to the 50-54 division. She won again.
When it came time to describing her performance this year, Habbe was at a loss for words.
“I don’t know if I’ve processed it yet,” the Missoula resident says.
Habbe wouldn’t go as far as to say she was zombie-like during the Games, but says she kept her head down and only focused on the next workout.
“I feel like every second I was there … I was in my own little world with my coach and my workout partner,” Habbe says. “It kind of worked out for me. I just kind of kept to myself in the moment and didn’t really want to think about any possibilities. I’m pleased I won.”
According to Petroff, the understated reaction is characteristic of Habbe.
“She’s humble as shit. She doesn’t ever think she’s good,” he says. “She thinks that everybody who competes is a better athlete and that she just got lucky.”
Habbe had shoulder and hand surgeries in December, and also injured her elbow before the Games. Despite these setbacks, her persistence helped her push through for another win.
As for 2013, Habbe is entertaining the idea of going team. She competed on CrossFit Montana's affiliate team at the 2011 North West Regional.
“It’s a totally different way of competing and I love it. I love competing with a team,” Habbe says. “When you’re competing as an individual, it’s just you. When you’re on a team, you can’t let your team down no matter what.”
In the meantime, she’ll do light workouts for a while.
“I want to give myself a chance to recover. I’m not good at jacking things down,” Habbe says. “I’m old and as old people know, our bodies take longer to recover.”
According to Petroff, getting Habbe to slow down is the most difficult part of coaching her.
“She is as crazy as she looks,” he says. “You actually don’t coach her to push, you coach her to back off.”
Petroff adds: “It’s actually more like babysitting, I guess you’d say.”
Habbe, he says, trains harder than most 20-year-olds.
“I don’t scale anything for her,” Petroff says.
Having grown up with three brothers and parents who always told their children to go outside and be active, Habbe says the Games Masters division is “really neat.”
Without the support of her CrossFit family—Petroff and her workout buddies—her wins mean nothing, according to Habbe.
“She’s a badass, she really is. And she’s a freakin’ sweet lady,” Petroff says. “She puts in the time to do what she needs to do.”