July 11, 2013
Ordinary People Doing Ordinary Things, Extraordinarily Well
By Emily Beers
Emily Beers set out to discover what the Regional hangover really looks like.
Emily Beers set out to discover what the Regional hangover really looks like.

Ever wonder what Regional athletes and CrossFit Games qualifiers do the morning after the Regional lights go down? 


There’s a common idiom that says, “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.”

But in today’s world, everyone claims to be busy.

How many times have you had or heard this conversation:

“How’s it going these days?”

“Oh good, you know, just busy.”

“I know. Me too. Crazy busy.”

“Tell me about it!”

Is everyone really that busy?

We’ve all come across a poser or two from time to time. These are the folks who are lazy at heart, who get little accomplished, but who masquerade around in a constantly stressed out manner as if they’re about to be swallowed by their own lives. These same folks are the ones who lobby hard for more vacation time and “personal days” because life is just too difficult sometimes.

So how do you pick out the legitimately busy people? The ones who don’t complain about having a lot on their plate; the ones who embrace filling up their days and just put their heads down and do what needs to be done?

Well, you can start by looking at a Regional CrossFit competition.


When her alarm went off on Monday morning after the North West Regional, she failed to hop out of bed spryly. Her hamstrings and glutes didn’t want to fire. Pretty much every muscle in her body ached.

She was the kind of sore where when she dropped something on the floor, she seriously contemplated whether or not it was worth bending over to pick it up.

But the emotional high she was on was overriding any kind of concern over the fact that she was about to embark on a three-day journey of shuffling around uncomfortably because it hurt too much to move her legs normally. She had, after all, been crowned the Fittest Women in the North West just the day before.

She is 22-year-old Rory Zambard.

Although Zambard spent her weekend courageously gutting her way through seven workouts, Monday wasn’t a rest day for the University of Washington student.

She had an early morning final exam in Russian History.

“It was definitely one of those exams where you ask the professor what the lowest grade you can get is and still get a passing mark,” Zambard laughed after the fact. “I had trouble forming complete sentences,” she added.

In the end, Zambard did more than just pass – she got a B. 

From Squat Cleans to Pouring Concrete

It’s the final event of the North West Regional competition, 27-year-old Alex Riley’s posterior chain feels wrecked. He practices a couple 225-lb. squat cleans in the warm-up area. It feels like 275 pounds.

He walks onto the competition floor with a big smile on his face. He’s limping. He sees a friend in the stands and mouths the words, “I’m so sore,” with a big grin on his face.

He’s taking it all in stride. He’s not here to win, and he’s just happy to be competing with some of the fittest men in the North West on the final day of competition in Seattle.

Despite the pain, he’s in his element. He enjoys doing things he doesn’t think he’s able to do.

And before he knows it, he’s climbing a rope and painfully strutting the 30 meters to the other end of the competition floor to hit his squat cleans. He nails four of them and shuffles back, still smiling, to the rope.

Physically, the workout is hard for Riley, but emotionally he’s pretty calm.

“When I’m faced with something daunting, I just react a bit differently than some people,” he says.

Or maybe he reacts differently because every day for Riley is daunting.

He owns CrossFit Mt. Adams in White Salmon, Washington, the small town near the Oregon border where he grew up. He and his girlfriend coach there together. But since his girlfriend owns another CrossFit affiliate as well, Riley is left to do most of the coaching at Mt. Adams on his own. Owning and managing a CrossFit affiliate could be a full-time job, but for Riley it’s just one piece of his day.

Riley runs a second business, as well – a family-owned concrete company. This means waking up at five o’clock every morning and working delivering or pouring concrete for 10 hours some days. Then it’s back to his gym, where he has three evening classes to worry about. After that, it’s time to train himself. By the time he gets home, it’s pretty much bedtime.

His marathon-like days make a short workout with rope climbs and squat cleans with a sore, broken-down body seem quite pleasant; at least there was a 10-minute time cap on the workout.

With his competitors cheering him on, Riley stands up his final squat clean and finishes the event in 9:19.

He has the evening to relax and recharge, knowing that his regular Monday morning is just around the corner.

“I actually got to sleep in until 5:30 am on Monday after Regionals,” said Riley, who usually wakes up at 5 am.

“Then my brother called and said, ‘I need you to go up to Goldendale and poor concrete today,’” he added.

“So I did,” he shrugged.