March 4, 2014
Carrie Cargain Has Already Won
By Tatum Vayavananda

"It was scary and fun, but mostly scary. My CrossFit family was there to cheer me on and that's how I got through it and made my goal and set my PR. I would have never been able to do it without them." ~Carrie Cargain on her first-ever Open workout

Photos courtesy of Tatum Vayavananda

Five months ago, Carrie Cargain, 44, had excuses for everything from nutrition to exercise to gym memberships. Now, Cargain is competing in the 2014 Open.

“I’m not going to be competitive by any stretch of the imagination, but it will be interesting to see if I’m not at the bottom out of all of Europe,” Cargain said.

A program analyst for the U.S. Marine Corps Forces in Europe and Africa, Cargain moved from her native, sunny island of Hawaii to the cold, rainy European city of Naples, Italy, five years ago.

Cargain said she was out of shape and felt like she was running out of time.

“I started putting on a lot of weight,” she said.

“A time ago, I thought about how old I am … working with Marines, I see them, and they’re all very young and fit,” she added. “I finally decided to start (working out this year) because I’m due to go back to Hawaii.”

CrossFit Panzer Kaserne opened next door to Cargain’s work, and her excuses began to dwindle.

“I thought, ‘Hello, it’s right next door,’ and all the excuses I had before about it being too expensive or … too far went out the window,” said the mother of two.

Cargain started CrossFit on Oct. 22, 2013. Since then, she’s gone from the newbie to a staple in the box.

“Within our affiliate, she’s the spark plug and she’s motivating everybody else because she works so damn hard every day that it gets other athletes pushing themselves a bit harder, as well,” said Don McCutchen, owner of CrossFit Panzer Kaserne. “Beyond that, she comes every time. If she can’t come, she’ll ask a coach about the (workout), whether there’s anything she needs to know, and get it done on her own.”

“I think she’s kind of, I don’t want to say poster child, and it sounds cliché to say she’s become an inspiration to people, but that’s the truth,” McCutchen said. “Within her office, within the box, people are asking her how she lost her weight, how she’s getting fit and she’s espousing CrossFit.”

Cargain wants to use the Open as a measure of her progress.

“I never thought about competing because I’m not at that level, but it’s neat to think there are people just like me, old as me or even older, who are also not competitive but just doing it because it feels good to put something up on the board and see my progression from where I was,” Cargain said.

“The thing I like about CrossFit is that everything is scalable but there’s constant progression,” she added. “The first six weeks, my coaches made me only do the PVC pipe and I thought to myself, ‘What am I doing? This is not inspiring or motivating at all.’”

But she found out that dirt-filled PVC pipes eventually give way to barbells, which soon get loaded with weight.

“Now that I know I’m doing the lifts right, I’m like, ‘Whoa,’ because I can lift some good weight when I know I’m doing it correctly and safely,” she said. “I went from nothing to the PVC pipe to the bar, and it’s getting progressively heavier.”

Cargain has experienced tremendous results with CrossFit, transforming from what she considered a weak, 130-lb. average person to a stronger, 113-lb. athlete.

Cargain said she looks forward to seeing the progress of others, who like her, are entering the Open to compete against themselves.

“I think I’ve already won anyway because I feel so much better physically, and even at home, my husband is eating better, exercising more and we’ll have debates about fitness rather than what is on television,” Cargain said.

McCutchen said the Open will motivate Cargain.

“It’s going to push her a little harder,” McCutchen said. “My primary goal is for her to be able to register a score for every workout and I think that’s a realistic goal because, historically, the movements for the Open have been such that you should be able to do at least one rep of whatever. I would really like to see her get that benchmark.”

Cargain looks forward to the Open and beyond, as she’s found a new identity as a CrossFit athlete.

“It’s funny, because the last three or four years, I had an excuse for everything,” Cargain said, “but this really helped me overcome those and make fitness a part of my life.”

The 55-lb. power snatches in Open Workout 14.1 were 15-lb. heavier than her previous PR. She completed four reps at the prescribed weight for a score of 34 on 14.1.

Shenetta Moye, one of Cargain’s coaches, said her performance was "so inspirational. My eyes still tear up every time I think about it."

"It was scary and fun, but mostly scary," Cargain said of her first-ever Open workout. "My CrossFit family was there to cheer me on and that's how I got through it and made my goal and set my PR. I would have never been able to do it without them." 

"I'd like to register a score of at least one point in each of the Open workouts,” she said. “I'm a bit apprehensive of what's coming next week, but aren't we all apprehensive about the Open workouts?"