March 12, 2012
The Casual Competitor Hits the Road
By Aaron Carr
In the middle of a 720-mile family road trip, Aaron Carr stopped for 12.3.
In the middle of a 720-mile family road trip, Aaron Carr stopped for 12.3.

If there had been an old woman with an oxygen tank there, I would have been too weak to wrestle it away from her.

If you take a glance across the Leaderboard, you may notice a feature that shows where the athlete validated each workout. There are, of course exceptions, but most athletes complete each of the Open workouts at the same affiliate. There are numerous reasons why this makes sense.  We are creatures of habit and comfort, and we are accustomed to completing weekly workouts were we complete our daily workouts.

But sometimes life gets in the way and forces you to make accommodations. This week is the spring break for my boys, so in coordination with our plans to travel, I also had to make plans to get the weekly Open Workout in a new and foreign outpost.


Have you ever noticed that walking into a new affiliate is kind of like walking into a family gathering, except particularly more fit and you don’t seem to have the weird cousins there who make everyone uncomfortable?  

I had found out that CrossFit Cedar City was holding its Open Workout 12.3 about the same time I would be driving by in the middle of our 720-mile trek. Saturday morning, in a semi-sleep deprived/traveled state, I dropped in and was instantly greeted by several smiling faces introducing themselves and welcoming me and I wasn’t even in workout attire. I was just some random person walking in the door, but they were just ridiculously friendly, and inviting. The CrossFit community atmosphere is certainly one of the greatest strengths this program has.

I spoke with the owner Bryant Swenson and his wife Lauren, and with incredibly wide smiles they welcomed my family and me to try my hand at 12.3 with their team.


I was in the second heat, so after a quick change of clothes and a brief warm-up and stretch, it was my turn at the gauntlet.

My favorite time domain is about 30 seconds so workouts beyond that time frame are an “opportunity to improve a weakness.” In most workouts, I tend to go out too fast and struggle to keep moving as time progresses. To avoid this, I had a plan. If I could average two minutes per round and pace myself, I could exceed my goal.

At 3, 2, 1, go, I started and deliberately set my pace and stuck to it … for the first two rounds. That’s when it hit me. I was sucking wind like a vacuum, or at least trying to with little success. I had never experienced competing at high altitude and it threw me for a loop. I could hardly breathe. If there had been an old woman with an oxygen tank there, I would have been too weak to wrestle it away from her.

But we are CrossFitters and we press on. In my oxygen-deprived condition, I continued to drive myself and appreciated the cheering and great coaching of the members of the affiliate who happened to be spectators that round.  

Did anyone else see Matt Chan’s video describing some of the more efficient ways to complete a box jump (on 120308 post here)? I found the advice very sage. For those who didn’t see it, I will summarize: rest at the top and save energy by bounding from the bottom, avoid getting into a compromised position by staring at the box, and use your peripheral vision. I was following the advice fairly well, if I do say so myself. In fact, you could say I followed it a little too well and midway through round four, I missed the box and in an epic fail took off a three-inch stretch of skin from my right shin (I guess in my sleep deprived state, I neglected the peripheral vision part). A bunch of spectators and coaches jumped in to make sure I was OK. 

What do CrossFitters do when we lose a little skin? We keep going. No one batted an eye when I staggered up and pressed on. You know they have been there and pushed through similar challenges. Whether it is a hand tear, a gash or a wicked WOD that kicks your backside, we have practice and experience pushing through challenges.


When time ran out for the AMRAP, my performance was unimpressive. As I was collapsed on the floor (again) making one of my best sweat angels, every person in the box came to congratulate me on my effort. One person even came and compared wounds from when the same thing happened to him earlier in the week. Please don’t think that they thought my performance was all that amazing. They were sincerely congratulating every participant in the heat.

This camaraderie of shared suffering brings us together. It allows us to know what a brutal experience “Fran” can be and with just couple words, a smile and a nod you know something about the person.

Frank Sinatra left his heart in San Francisco and I left my shin in Cedar City. But as I drove away a couple hours after I first arrived, I took with me fond memories, some great pictures of a fun experience and gratitude for the welcoming community that gives you a little bit of home even when you’ve traveled to the other side of the world.

A description about Cedar City CrossFit would be incomplete without one more comment. They have this great bucket for Pukie that has been signed and dated by each lucky participant listing the workout where they got to contribute. I didn’t get to use it this first visit, but there is always next time.