"I can't use the excuse of my age as a reason for poor performance," Guaderrama said of training with Osborne.
Tonia Osborne and Noelani Guaderrama are in their 40s and outpacing athletes decades younger.
At 43, Osborne qualified for the Southern California Regional as the 20th-ranked woman in the region, and was a key contributor to the eighth-ranked team in the region, Ruination CrossFit Gold. A couple of weeks ago, her performances in the first-ever Masters Qualifier earned her a spot in the 40-44 Division at the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games.
Osborne’s training partner, Guaderrama, also 43, helped their box’s other team, Ruination CrossFit, qualify for the regional as the 28th-ranked team, and finished the Masters Qualifier in 40th place.
So, what’s their secret?
For one, they’ve put in the time.
Guaderrama started CrossFit nine years ago, and has competed at the regional level since 2010. After two years as an individual competitor (2010, 2011), Guaderrama switched to team competition (2012, 2013). Osborne has qualified for the individual competition at the SoCal Regional for the last four years, but each year she has opted for team.
Which leads to their second secret: Their teammates motivate them to give their best.
“It is the relationship with my teammates that motivates me to perform to the best of my ability,” Guaderrama said. “We rely on each other’s strengths and help make up for each other’s weaknesses. It’s very rewarding to share the success as a team.”
Although Guaderrama and Osborne officially parted ways this year—by joining separate teams—they’ve stuck through the Open and Masters Qualifier together.
Having a training partner who’s the same age was key, they said.
“I can't use the excuse of my age as a reason for poor performance,” Guaderrama said of training with Osborne.
Despite their busy schedules as full-time professionals—Osborne is a senior program manager at Panasonic Avionics, and Guaderrama is a urogynecologist—they train 10 to 12 hours per week and make an effort to train together whenever possible. In the lead up to the 2014 season, they trained together almost daily.
“We enjoy training together because we push each other harder than we would push ourselves alone,” Guaderrama said.
The two pushed each other as they completed all four Masters Qualifier events side by side. Osborne tends to excel in the heavy lifts, while Guaderrama does better at gymnastics movements.
“I love to lift with her because her strength is inspiring,” Guaderrama said.
Osborne cleaned 205 lb., while Guaderrama fought to stand up with 172 lb. for the first event of the Qualifier, a one-rep-max clean.
In the next event, Amanda, the leads changed.
Guaderrama tore through the muscle-ups and squat snatches in just 5:50 (ninth), while Osborne completed it in a respectable 9:37.
Although Osborne’s time would have been good enough for eighth place in the individual division of the 2010 CrossFit Games when Amanda debuted, in the hyper-competitive 40-44 Division in 2014, that same time put her in 30th.
“Last year, I didn’t make the Games because muscle-ups were not a strong enough movement for me,” Osborne explained. “Amanda was the hardest event for me, because muscle-ups are still a weak skill for me. I still did OK, but know I can do better.”
“I was excited to see Amanda come up because I love muscle-ups and squat snatches. I had only done it once before … after completing Diane and I did it in 11:42. So my goal was to finish this event in under nine minutes,” Guaderrama said. “When I finished the round of nine reps in two minutes, I couldn’t believe it. I finished in 5:50 and was super happy with that time.”
Although Guaderrama’s 39th-place finish in the Masters Qualifier wasn’t what she hoped for, she’s excited for Osborne and the opportunity to compete at the SoCal Regional with her team.
“I really wanted to be in the top 20 of the masters athletes going to the Games this year, and I’m so thrilled for and proud of Tonia,” Guaderrama said. “But for now, we are completely focused on team training and representing The Nation at the SoCal Regional!”
Osborne is now splitting her attention. With a Games invite for the masters competition in the bag, she’s now training to see whether she can help her Ruination CrossFit Gold teammates earn a spot on the podium.
If faced with the choice of masters or team at the Games, Osborne has already decided which division she will compete with in Carson, California: “If I make it for both masters and team to this year’s Games, I will choose to go team,” she said. “I have many more years to compete as a master in the Games for years to come.”