"Our region this year is definitely harder than last year, both at my own gym and the other women that I've seen huge gains and improvements from. So, it's honestly going to be really hard to make it this year."
The Front Range CrossFit athlete talks about the chances of the women in the South West Region, competing at 41 and how she remains one of the best
The South West Region and Front Range CrossFit Dominance
With the addition of several top-level CrossFitters to the South West this year, the women’s division is stacked. Coming back to play however, are the three top-finishers, all from Front Range CrossFit in Denver, Colo.
Colleen Maher, Jasmine Dever and Becky Conzelman all hope to repeat their sweeping performance. But it will certainly be a challenge.
“Our region this year is definitely harder than last year, both at my own gym and the other women that I’ve seen huge gains and improvements from,” Conzelman says. “So it’s honestly going to be really hard to make it this year.”
Colleen Maher, winner of the South West Regional in 2012, has improved and as Conzelman explains, the 18-year-old could be unbeatable.
“Colleen, wow. Ultimately, her trajectory and improvement path is simply amazing,” Conzelman says. “I’ve kind of given up in terms of trying to keep up with her on certain things, and I’ve watched her max lifts skyrocket. She’s made huge gains all around.”
Looking to improve upon her performance in the Games, Dever has also made some mental adjustments that will surely give her a more streamlined edge going forward, Conzelman says.
“On the offseason, I watched Jasmine do a tough competition and I was so happy for her because it was the strongest I’ve ever seen her compete,” she explains, “and that, to me, as a coach and a mom and just an athlete my whole life … it was thrilling to see her reach that level of fitness that I knew she was capable of.”
Individual vs. Masters
Last year, Conzelman was the top-rated performer at the Regional and the Open for women older than 40, and finished the Games in 14th place. With a chance of becoming the first Masters Women 40–44 champion, Conzelman has some choices to make.
“There is some valuable incentive for me to win Masters for various reasons, but I feel like I should compete at the highest level that I am capable of,” she explains. “I’m still getting better and stronger, so until I fall off the curve, I’m gunning for the Regional as an individual. And if I podium there, then that’s great. If I don’t, then my goal will be to win in the 40-44 Division. I think it will be really fun, and ultimately I’m just happy to compete. And I thank CrossFit for creating this sport that gives people the opportunity to try to win at any age.”
Mental Preparedness, Training and Overtraining
Conzelman’s performance at the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games was a compliment to the ability she has to control her emotions, as well as to understand her body and know when to step back.
“A major component to doing well in a high-pressure competition is your mental ability to handle it. I’ve competed at the world level and that experience has allowed me to eliminate that element of uneasiness,” she says. “A lack of competition experience can really hinder your performance. For me, when it’s game day, it’s on for me. I’ve got to turn off mom mode and turn on warrior mode.”
“After the Games last year, I felt like my family really needed more time, and so I committed to not doing any evening workouts until January, and that really helped to shape my training when I ramped up after that,” she adds. “This year, my training has been much better, mostly due to the fact that I’m stressing less about it. I’m enjoying the process. Also, last year, I had a knee injury that kept me from doing a major amount of heavy lifting basically until January. This year, I’ve had fewer injuries. And lastly, I know exactly how much volume I can handle and I know the threshold at which I can peak, my body tells when to back off.”
Skip Miller, owner of Front Range CrossFit, and coach and programmer for many top-level athletes, has given Conzelman the tools to make her better.
“When it comes to the actual process of training, I am accountable to Skip to get the things done that he has identified as my weaknesses,” Conzelman says. “That is something that doesn’t require hand holding. I’m disciplined, so I know that if I am improving and listening to my body, then I will be successful when it’s time.”
Words of Wisdom
Conzelman has priorities in her life and those priorities control how she navigates through her everyday journey. The wisdom she has compiled from lessons in CrossFit and other sports is thought provoking and genuine.
As a world-class cyclist in the early 2000s, Conzelman worked tirelessly to become an Olympian.
“My dream, something that I thought about everyday, was to make the Olympic team,” she says. “Long story short, there was not a day that went by that I was not on that bike training. It was to the point that I would take my trainer on vacations. If I could work out, I was working out. I was driven out of my mind and when I didn’t make it, I was devastated.”
“I learned that we are not really in control of our destiny. We can train all we want, as I did in my instance and it wasn’t to be. I learned a valuable lesson that I have carried with me ever since. Enjoy the training process, the friendships you make along the way and really leave the outcome to the Lord. I know now that if I give everything I have and it doesn’t work out, it’s not going to crush me or change my identity and the joy I have in my life.”
Consummate she is, and if that translates to prediction, Conzleman’s performance will be as inspirational as her words.