On Sunday, May 13, Valerie Voboril stood with her 10-month-old daughter on the third place podium at the SoCal Regional. As Voboril received her medal alongside Rebecca Voigt and Kristan Clever, the fans cheered as baby Vin and her mother shared the widest smiles. The podium is a familiar place for Voboril, but wasn’t necessarily a place she thought she would be this year.
“My confidence was kind of low going in,” Voboril says. “I had to just tell myself that I was going to go have fun, but once I got in there everything changed. When I stepped out on the field, it was go time. It was like my old drive to go kicked in.”
Voboril’s performance at the Regional only reinforced the drive she has shown throughout her past four years as a CrossFit competitor. In 2009, Voboril struggled with heat exhaustion during the treacherous 7K run of Event 1. Though barely conscious, she still managed to somersault across the finish line. At the 2010 Games, she came back with a fierce effort and took third place overall. In 2011, new challenges were presented to Voboril. Just a few months after placing third at the 2010 Games, and just a few months before the 2011 Open, Voboril found out that she and her husband Steve would be expecting a baby girl that summer.
Going into the Open already a few months pregnant, Voboril had to change her game plan for that year. “My main goal was just to finish each workout,” she says.
Voboril was well on her way to that goal until 11.5 was announced and one of the movements was toes-to-bars. “I was on strict orders from my doctors to avoid all abdominal work.”
Even with this restriction, Voboril was able to finish the Open in 101st place.
Post-pregnancy life was not absent of challenges. Voboril was ordered to take six weeks off of working out after enduring a C-section. At five weeks, she went into the gym to stretch. “Big mistake. I was out completely for two months before I started back,” she recalls. “I had to go very slowly and very gently. It was frustrating.”
Even as the Open approached, Voboril had not reached the intensity she once knew inside of the gym. “Around the Open was the first time I was able to push again,” she says. “I usually felt like I would smash everyone in the gym, but I didn’t feel like I was excelling. I got a bit more perspective.”
Voboril was being very careful for the months prior to the Open. She avoided the GHD machine until right before the Open and had to be very easy on the abs. “It was real easy and real slow,” she says. “Almost like being pregnant again.”
With a strong seventh place finish in this year’s Open, many would think the individual path would be a no-brainer. However, unsure of herself, Voboril took some time to debate her decision. Finally she punched her ticket as an individual. “I couldn’t stand wondering,” Voboril says. “The ‘What if?’ would drive me crazy.”
Road to Regionals
Once the decision to go individual was made, she had to decide how to approach her training. Many athletes show a ramp up in training. For Voboril, this wasn’t an option. As a full-time teacher and the mother of a newborn Voboril’s time in the gym is limited.
“I keep my gym time to an hour a day,” she says. “I used to spend a few hours getting my lifts in and hanging out with my friends, but now my time is limited.”
Within her hour, Voboril usually hits a skill, a met-con and a lift. While many athletes have discussed their two, three or more workouts per day, Voboril has found success with one hour, five days a week. Voboril used to consider a five-mile run a "rest day," whereas now she takes two full, true rest days.
Voboril isn't scared of carbs. In 2010, Voboril followed a Zone-Paleo diet, but with her pregnancy and the birth of her daughter, she began to add grains to her meals. What does she eat that would strike fear into her Paleo friends? “Bagels,” she says.
Voboril has considered giving them up leading up to the Games. “Once you start up it’s hard to kick,” she says. “I always think, maybe next week.”
Grains or not, Voboril is hard to beat.
Be in the Present
As Regionals approached, Voboril hit a few obstacles. A little over a week before the weekend at the Pomona Fairgrounds, Voboril was only able to complete one round of Event 3: the dumbbell snatch/sprint. One round would move her on to Workout 4, but would take her out of any type of competition for the top three spots. With this disappointment draining her, another blow came.
“The week before Regionals I got sick, I didn’t train at all that week, and that shook my confidence even more,” she says.
These bumps in the road may have affected many people’s mindset. However, Voboril was able to come into the competition and reset.
“I don’t even like to know the numbers, I just try to do my own thing and be in the moment,” she says. “If a workout goes poorly, I move on; if it goes well, I move on. This helps me attack each event. I stick to the mantra: ‘Be in the present.’”
This mantra and the ability to meditate and zone out the rest of the competition has given Voboril the ability to focus. In Event 3, a workout she could barely finish a round of just days before, she was able to not only complete, but also bring the region’s fourth fastest time of 5:23. After top seven finishes across the board, it is a wonder if Voboril has any weaknesses.
“Well, I’d be nervous about measuring my accuracy of throwing,” she says with a laugh. “But other than that I look forward to the events. I love the idea of getting objects from one area to another and really seeing the measurement of work capacity.”
Voboril may only spend an hour-a-day training, but her mentality and fighting spirit make her one to watch at the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games.