July 14, 2013
Pushing Through: Stacie Tovar
By James Toland

"Trusting in my preparation, I do expect to perform at a very high level and compete with the top 50 women for a spot on the podium."

Photos by: Tony Frescas

Nothing is a given at the CrossFit Games Regional competitions, even if you’re a veteran.

This spring, fans watched as multi-year Games competitors failed to qualify for the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games. Shana Alverson, Chris Spealler, Pat Burke, Lindsey Smith, Jenny Davis, Nate Schrader, Jeremy Kinnick, Chase Daniels, Annie Sakamoto and more missed the cut.

Entering the North Central Regional with an aching shoulder, four-time Games competitor Stacie Tovar knew she had to perform at her best despite her shoulder pain, or accept that she wasn’t going to the Games this year.

“I knew I had something going on when I felt unusually sore after Open Workout 13.3, and I just felt something wasn’t right with my shoulder,” she says. “At the time, I thought the injury was possibly a rotator cuff issue of some sort — a tear or strain, and tendonitis.”

She continued training despite the discomfort, and entered the Regional determined to qualify.

“The entire Regional weekend, I was a hot mess,” she says.

Although she was injured, Tovar started with a strong performance in Event 1 with a 6:24 Jackie for third behind Deborah Cordner Carson (6:13) and Elisabeth Akinwale (5:59).  

“I can do Jackie unbroken. I just tried to hang on for as long as the shoulder would let me,” she says.

In the next event, she managed to reach 195 lbs. on the overhead squats. With one rep, she fell just behind Akinwale for second.

“I was confident in my overhead squat just because I knew that I was going to feel some tension in the shoulder just a handful of times. On the initial pull, and then in the jerk over my head and that was it,” she says. “Lucky for me, I was capable of doing a clean and jerk to get into overhead position each time using the same hands positioning for both movements.”

It was an impressive feat, but it exacted its toll on the Burpee Muscle-up Event. Feeling her shoulder, she got 26 reps within the seven-minute time cap to tie for fourth place.

“On the muscle-ups, I actually stood around with about 20 seconds left because it was just too painful,” Tovar recalls. “The muscle-ups were so early on in the competition and took so much out of me that I was pretty discouraged afterwards.”

Later that night, the training staff worked on her shoulder so she could continue on the next day. On Saturday, she powered through for a third-place finish on the 100s and a second-place finish on the deadlift/box jump couplet.

Taking fifth place on the last day’s chipper, and third place on the final event, she sealed second overall and thoroughly concealed her injury.

“When I was flying into Chicago, I made a pact with myself,” she says. “I told myself that regardless of what happens this weekend or where I’m at on the Leaderboard, I was not going to show frustration and weakness in front of my fellow competitors. I was not going to let my injury get the best of me.”

Tovar felt drained mentally and physically after every event, she says. When the weekend came to a close, she cried.

“I was totally overwhelmed with the fact that my body could continue on under so much pain and stress, and I was thrilled and truly so happy that I was going to the Games for the fifth year in a row,” she says.

It wasn’t until after Regionals that she learned the extent of her injury.

“(I) found out that I have a low-level grade 1 sprain of the infraspinatus, with some mild tendonitis going on, and I also have a fractured scapula,” she says.

She knows there is work to be done before heading to the StubHub Center at the end of this month, but she’s ready to face the daunting task. With everything she went through at Regionals, she is eyeing a spot on the podium at the Games this year.

“I go out there take it one (event) at a time, stick to a strategy, execute and have fun. Trusting in my preparation, I do expect to perform at a very high level and compete with the top 50 women for a spot on the podium,” she says.

Even though the Games have changed since her first trip there, she still cherishes every opportunity to compete with the best.

“I can still remember my first trip to the Games ... I did six workouts in one day, it was scorching hot and I was filthy dirty,” she remembers. “If you would have asked me on the Ranch five years ago, I never in a million years would have imagined that the Games would be the spectacle that they are today.”