March 29, 2013
The Ups and Downs of the Open for Rebeca Marchand
By Thomas Moore

"I'm finally where I should have been a couple of years ago."

Photos by: Seth Benson

For Rebeca Marchand, a trainer at University of Nevada CrossFit, box jumps are a good metaphor for the Games: a series of emotional ups and downs as she competes first doing well, then not so well, then better once more.

At the start of the Open, Workout 13.1 was considered a win for the Brazilian native. The focus on technique at UNR CrossFit leading up to the Games season paid off when she completed 161 reps on the first workout.

"I was stoked about it. I knew I wasn't going to get a huge number, but I really wanted to do better than last year. That was my one and only goal. Oh, and I wanted at least 10 snatches at 100 (lb.),” she says.

"When I saw I had plenty of time for the 100-lb. snatches, I approached them one at a time. I didn’t want to rush through them and have any missed lifts. When my hands touched the barbell for that first attempt at 100, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that I could do it. My one-rep max is only 108. It's definitely not my strongest Olympic movement — much of it is technique.”

When she snatched the bar, she says it went up with ease.

"I was stoked. (In fact), I’d say too stoked and that made me miss the second. After missing the second, I gathered myself together again, took a deep breath, went again and got it up. Of course, I couldn’t see myself during the workout, but I’d dare to say I had a huge smile on my face once I got that 10th snatch. I probably even did a happy dance in my head,” she recalls.

"My 11th came in the last 10 seconds of the 17 minutes. I only heard two things from the announcer that night. One of them was: '10 seconds left.' I knew I had one more in me. So, I put my big girl pants on and decided to go for that last attempt in the last few seconds. I think I was too excited. I rushed through it and ended up on my knees. But a miracle happened and I was able to stand up with the bar overhead as time ran out. I’d pretty much sum this workout experience in the words of a friend and fellow coach at UNR: “What the fuck just happened?”

But then 13.2 rolled around and Marchand hit her emotional shins against the edge of the box.

"(That) week was terrible. I have this thing with box jumps,” she explains. "It's totally mental. I moved pretty well through everything else. Looking back, I should have worked on box jumps a little more leading up to the Open, especially knowing how poorly I perform on workouts with box jumps. I've learned that only during competitions can I bounce right back up on the box. During everyday training, I do a double hop on the ground before jumping back up. It's a lot of work for a 5-foot girl."

Any disappointment she has in her performance has to be chalked up as mental. Her progress since she started CrossFit has been great, she says, considering she has no athletic background. Marchand grew up in Brazil, and says kids there do not play organized sports like they do in the U.S.

"I have no athletic background," she says. "Everything I learned from Jim (Fitzsimmons, who runs UNR CrossFit) and CrossFit was new — from air squats to snatches."

Despite the inexperience, it only took Marchand a year from her first CrossFit workout in April of 2009, until the spring of 2010 when she received her Level 1 and began coaching.

Marchand admits the ups and downs of the season, or maybe just an ongoing confidence deficit, gets to her, and she has to constantly remind herself of how far she has come.

"Because I don't have an athletic background, it's tough for me to bounce back up. I don't have 'that' type of training. I was faced with a total mental breakdown, once again, after 13.2,” she says.

"I know this is just a competitive exercise and I do this for fun, but when you have been working hard and your performance doesn't show it, it's pretty disheartening. I tell myself everyday that this is fun and that's why I do it. Before the season started, I'd tell myself that this was my year — that I wanted to be ready for whatever. Am I there yet? Absolutely not. And I'm sure everyone says that, but honestly, I'm not.”

And that’s what she told herself before Open Workout 13.3. And she was pleased with her performance. She finished the wall balls, double-unders and five muscle-ups.

“I’m happy with it ... Last year, I don’t think I got half of the double-unders,” she says.

Marchand is able to keep enough perspective to perform better and appreciate the progress her hard work has produced.

"I've been CrossFitting for four years now, and (it’s) just in the last nine months or so that I started a strength program,” she says. “And I'm finally where I should have been a couple of years ago. And you know what? I'm OK with that on a day-to-day basis. I'm still stronger than I ever thought possible. I remember the first time I deadlifted my bodyweight ... I was so proud of myself. Then the first time I cleaned bodyweight ... best day ever."