Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Archive for March, 2014

Thanks, Coach!

As the CrossFit Open closes and the competition moves on with an ever-smaller number of athletes, what feels like the run-up to the Games is in my mind actually the wind-down to business as usual for CrossFit and CrossFitters. This is a good thing, of course, because business as usual means making people better. For most of us we move from 5 weeks of all-consuming competition to 46 weeks of becoming a healthier version of ourselves. For the thousands of CrossFit Affiliate gym owners it’s a time to prepare for an influx of people new to CrossFit attracted by the spectacle of the CrossFit Games.

For all of that this is the perfect time to sit back and think about how and why all of this has happened. When you do that you come to a very obvious conclusion, and your own “to-do” list has exactly one item: it’s time to send out thanks to Greg Glassman. Whether you are a member of the cyber-gym here on CrossFit.com getting your dose for free, or a member of one of those thousands of CrossFit gyms, Coach has put his system out there for all of us. Following it makes you better. There are 8 or 9 or 10,000 small business owners out there making a go at making a living from CrossFit, each one of them working in the CrossFit “least rents” model of economic freedom. The CrossFit Games exists to support each of them.

The White family sends special thanks to Coach and CrossFit. Our boys started a Box together, and that business launched Dan to Law and Business school, and Randy to a bigger Box all on his own. Even Megan checks in with CrossFit news from Georgia! CrossFit is the language we speak in the White house, a glue that binds us, connects us, and brings us together. We like each other so it’s probable that we’d be tightly connected regardless; CrossFit just makes it that much more fun!

Lastly, Beth and I send our heartfelt thanks to Greg for his friendship, and for the many friendships we have forged simply by hanging around CrossFit and CrossFitters. We sincerely hope that our kids will have the same experience making friends in CrossFit that we have had, and we wish the same for all of you.

CrossFit is for Whom?

It’s really incredible what’s been said about our CrossFit on the information highways this week. The amount of opinion masquerading as fact-based advice is off the charts. Anyone’s who’s been here for more than 2 years will realize that it’s just that part of the cycle, that time when CrossFit has reached another Tipping Point size-wise and has therefore come to the attention of another outwardly spiraling circle of “experts.” Trust me, it’s Groundhog Day in the gym, so to speak.

This is a wonderful opportunity to take a moment to reflect upon what CrossFit actually is, what it is not, and for whom CrossFit is appropriate. Let’s start with the last and work forward. CrossFit is appropriate for almost everyone. The group for whom it may not be really the best option is actually counter-intuitive: elite single sport athletes in highly skilled endeavors. Waaaiiiit at minute here, you might be saying. The highest-skilled elite athletes may NOT be the best CrossFit candidates, but the great unwashed masses of the obese, unfit, and unhealthy ARE?! You bet, Bucky. That’s exactly what I’m saying. The .01% probably need to spend 100% of their time on their specialty.

CrossFit is for the other 99.9%.

Why? How can that be? Well, that runs into what CrossFit is not, namely a dangerous, hyper-intense program that has a high injury rate, something too over-the-top for “regular” folks. Uh, uh. The real “dirty little secret” of CrossFit (if I may crib a rather recently famous phrase) is that scaling the stimulus and subbing in favor of more approachable movements is decidedly the norm in almost every setting where CrossFit is done. Technique. Then consistency. Then, and only then, intensity. Says so everywhere. Are there small pockets of CrossFit or CrossFitters who jump the gun and go straight to intensity? Sure. But that is hardly an indictment of the program, especially since the program and the company incessantly beat the drum: technique, then consistency, and only then intensity.

Which brings me to what it is that CrossFit can actually be said to be: the solution to the adverse effects of overabundance. A viable answer to the problems created by an unhealthy population. While the CrossFit Games have been an incredibly effective PR vehicle for the CrossFit Affiliates (which is also true, paradoxically, of all this silliness on the web right now!), they have confused a vocal segment of the opinionators about CrossFit and CrossFitters. Peek through the door of any CF Box and guess at who’s inside. Here’s a tip: it ain’t Jason Khalipa and Miranda Oldroyd! It is, however, everyone else. What do you think they will be caught doing? Again, likely not what Jason and Miranda are doing that day! They will rather be doing approximately an hour’s worth of work, some of it skill-based, some of it directed toward some hole in their fitness, and almost certainly culminating in something that we would all recognize as a WOD. Look very closely, though, because if you do you will also see that there will be many subtle variations of that particular WOD going on, maybe as many subtle variations as there are CrossFitters in the gym.

CrossFit is a highly customizable system built on the core principles elucidated in the Classic CrossFit Journal Issue no.2, “What is Fitness”, for which there is a link on the left side of the Main Page of CrossFit.com. A prescription for not only fitness but also health that includes a universally scalable program of exercise in combination with an easily followed guideline for nutrition, all geared to produce incremental and sustainable gains in 10 very specific physical domains. All of this results in health, and when we combine this individual health with the wonders of the communities that have grown out of gatherings of CrossFitters we end up with something that could be called Wellness.

None of this is new. Nothing I’ve said here is unique or original. It does bear repeating, though, because you might be relatively new, and this latest round of “CrossFit is dangerous” or “CrossFit is only for people like Jason and Miranda” might actually be your first rodeo. It’s OK. Relax. It’s still technique, then consistency, and only then intensity. It’s still eat to support performance in the gym but not production of fat. Still learn and play new games. It’s still CrossFit.

CrossFit is still the answer.

 

Alive Without a Life

Billy Ray (not his real name, of course) turned off his implantable defibrillator (ICD) yesterday. Billy Ray is 44.

In my day job I was asked to evaluate him for a problem in my specialty. I was told he was about to enter hospice care and assumed that he was much, much older and simply out of options. I admit that I was somewhat put out by the request, it being Saturday and the problem already well-controlled. Frankly, I thought it was a waste of my time, Billy Ray’s time, and whoever might read my report’s time, not to mention the unnecessary costs. I had a very pleasant visit with Billy Ray, reassured him that the problem for which I was called was resolving nicely, and left the room to write my report.

44 years old though. What was his fatal illness? What was sending him off to Hospice care? I bumped into his medical doc and couldn’t resist asking. Turns out that Billy Ray has a diseased heart that is on the brink of failing; without the ICD his heart will eventually beat without a rhythm and he will die. A classic indication for a heart transplant–why was Billy Ray not on a transplant list? Why, for Heaven’s sake, did he turn off his ICD?

There is a difference between being alive and having a life. It’s not the same to say that one is alive and that one is living. It turns out that Billy Ray suffered an injury at age 20 and has lived 24 years in unremitting, untreatable pain. Cut off before he even began he never married, has no children. Each day was so filled with the primal effort to stop the pain he had little left over for friendship.

Alive without a life. Alive without living. Billy Ray cried “Uncle”.

I have been haunted by this since I walked out of the hospital. How do you make this decision? Where do you turn? Billy Ray has made clear he has no one. Does a person in this situation become MORE religious or LESS? Rage against an unjust G0d or find comfort in the hope of an afterlife? Charles DeGaulle had a child with Down’s Syndrome. On her death at age 20 he said “now she is just like everyone else.” Is this what Billy Ray is thinking? That in death he will finally be the same as everyone else?

And what does this say about each of us in our lives? What does it say about the problems that we face, the things that might make us rage against some personal injustice? How might we see our various infirmities when cast in the shadow of a man who has lived more than half his life in constant pain, a man alone? The answer, of course, is obvious, eh?

The more subtle message is about people, having people. Having family, friends, people for whom one might choose to live. It’s very easy to understand the heroic efforts others make to survive in spite of the odds, despite the pain. Somewhere deep inside the will to live exists in the drive to live for others. The sadness I felt leaving the hospital and what haunts me is not so much Billy Ray’s decision but my complete and utter understanding of his decision.

Billy Ray gave lie to the heretofore truism that “no man is an island”.

Go out and build your bridges. Build the connections to others that will build your will to live. Live so that you will be alive for your others. Be alive so that your life will be more than something which hinges on nothing more than the switch that can be turned off. Live with and for others so that you, too, can understand not only Billy Ray but also those unnamed people who fight for every minute of a life.

Be more than alive. Live.

 

March CrossFit Madness

I, like some 6 or 7 million like souls, spent a ridiculous amount of time yesterday in front of a screen watching college basketball. Unlike, oh, 6.9995 million or so, I spent a couple of hours NOT watching semi-professional basketball players because I tuned in to the DIII finals between Williams College and Wisconsin-Whitewater. A thriller, W-W won with a Danny Ainge-like coast-to-coast lay-up after a Williams bucket with 4.8 seconds remaining. Every senior on both senior-laden teams played his last meaningful basketball game; no pro sports for the DIII stars.

It would have been fitting if the mid-court circle had been filled with the empty sneakers of the just-retired.

What does this have to do with CrossFit? Heck, what does this have to do with anything? By and large NCAA Division III athletes play for nothing other than a love for their game. It’s no different in any sport than it is in basketball. There are no athletic scholarships in DIII (although being an athlete may help get you in to school), and with a couple of unique situations (squash?), the DIII athlete is competing right where he or she belongs. The biggest fish in the DIII pond is no more than a minnow in the Division I sea.

Yet they play. It matters. Each athlete in each sport cares just as much as any of the semi-pros in Div. I. You don’t read or hear heartwarming stories about extraordinary academic outliers (Aaron Craft, OSU) at the DIII level because that’s the norm. It’s play, though it matters while playing. There’s a team to be on and teammates to depend on, who depend on you. Shared suffering toward a common goal is no different at Williams or W-W as it would be at Washington or Wisconsin. The lessons are the same and ring as true whether played out in front of 30,000 strangers or 300 people on a first-name basis.

I used to miss being on a team. Used to miss the locker room. Even missed teammates I didn’t particularly care for on a personal level because, well, we were teammates and we had common foes and a common goal. Ask Mrs. bingo: nothing really filled that hole, nothing really replaced what it was and who I was when I last walked off the field, my spikes figuratively laying empty on the 50 yard line. I accomplished all that I reasonably could–there is no market for a short, light, slow cornerback who is a slave to gravity.

Time and distance have pushed the memories and the longing to the margins. Since discovering CrossFit once again I have a sense of shared suffering in the pursuit of a goal. Do I have a team? Sort of. It’s kinda big and the locker room is different, for sure. I do have a sense of team, though, especially during our own CrossFit version of March Madness. For all the Sturm und Drang surrounding the Open it really is the one time we all come together on our particular fields of play. Like any group of men or women on any NCAA team, drawn far and wide from circumstances vastly different or eerily similar, for 5 weeks that which we share is more powerful than any of our differences.

32 years removed from my last game, that has been enough.

I’ll see you next week…

Posted by bingo at March 23, 2014 7:17 AM

The Hourglass

The world, life, has always seemed to me to be as an hourglass, the tiny individual grains of sand appearing at the mouth of the funnel from nowhere. The top is empty, after all, else we’d know to the grain how long our lives to be.

So there, just above the narrow tunnel between “to be” and “been” appears a moment, on its way to becoming a memory, in that fleeting time of “now”. From there it falls through to join other moments come and gone. These we can see, of course, as they fill the bottom of the hourglass. Shake the glass and they come into view.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that my hourglass was nearly empty? So few grains of time that the bottom was barely dusted? Isn’t that my Mom and Dad right there in that huge Chevy wagon? Man, it’s PACKED with beach stuff. There I am in the “way-back” sitting on top of the chairs and towels. 4 kids in the car; we can’t sit together, of course, because someone might touch someone else! They were so big, my folks, they filled up the horizon. So small now…so fragile…shadows that flit in and out of view.

My caboose, Randy, will sing today at Baccalaureate, ready to graduate from High School. Beth and I about to become Netty Empsters. How can that be? When did that grain of sand appear? Can we really be here already? Shake the glass just a little and there he is in his Spider Man jammies, the first day of football, “hey Dad, I’m taller than you!” They keep appearing at the mouth of the funnel, another and another and another grain as the sands of my time flow. Can it really be? Are we really here ALREADY?

My big boy Dan is a law student? Come on! There’s that tiny grain of sand: “Hey Mom, MOM, can we make chocolate chip cookies” at 0430. A face-plant off the coffee table. “I’m OK!” The guy can grow a full beard, all Grizzly Adams, in one weekend! My goodness, already back from his bachelor party and ABOUT TO GET MARRIED! How did those grains of sand get here already?

“Lovely Daughter”, our middle child Megan, is so far away we can’t even get there with a single flight. The girl who spent 2 hours every single day in a car with her Mom to and from a barn is now the proud proprietor of her own ABA Therapy clinic. “I’n a huggy” and “that horse is ginormous” has given way to “Miss Megan, may I?” And she’s GETTING MARRIED, TOO. A daughter’s grains sparkle like diamonds, little bolts of lightning flying through the funnel.

The hourglass sits afore me, the sand flows. I see Randy as he looks toward me, looks as I fill his horizon. My gaze drifts toward my own Mom and Dad, their hourglass is nearly full; there’s barely a rise in Randy’s sand. Grains appear in mine, one after the other. I see behind, before, in the bottom of my hourglass. I stare at the funnel, stare as if I look hard enough the top of the hourglass will fill and  I’ll see my “to be”.

It’s not possible, of course. I know that. You know that. It’s so trite, so trivial, but no less true that the sands pour through more swiftly than we can follow. The less we attend to them as they pass the faster they pour. The less attention we pay the harder it is to see them as they land in the bottom of the glass; we miss them as they pass and then can’t find them as they settle among the other grains of our time. To find them in the bottom of the hourglass we must see them as they pass through the funnel from top to bottom, look right at them lest they become nothing more than shadows. We wonder if they were real at all.

But real they were. Where did they all go, those grains, those sands of my time? How many did I miss, shadows on my horizon?

 

“Feelspeak”

One of the reasons CrossFit HQ finds itself in the crosshairs of so many folks of such varied persuasions is that the folks speaking on behalf of the company mince no words. Speaking thusly has become so rare that this, in and of itself, has earned CrossFit (and its founder Greg Glassman) the enmity of people all across every spectrum, people in any and all categories. Standards are set and rules enunciated in plain English. Answers to questions or responses to attack are given quickly, directly, and without artifice.

This makes lots of folks uncomfortable.

In the Western world we’ve become inured to the way the majority of the world talks or writes. The standard operating procedure is now to bend words in such a way that they appeal to a belief system rather than reference a collection of facts. Strong, substantive words like “cause” become hostages to this new feelspeak when they are joined with a qualifier such as “may”. So, too, the verb “to be” in all its splendor is slimed by the addition of “might” or “could”. You’ve seen this: “Experts say that CrossFit may cause injuries when it becomes a sport,” or some such nonsense.

The slimy words, the qualifiers and the hedges, remove all need for honesty. They provide cover for agendas unencumbered by  reality. These words speak not for the facts but for the beliefs, the feelings of the speaker. Likewise, they appeal not to the individual who seeks knowledge or understanding but to one who seeks to have his own belief system validated. I feel, therefore I am.

It is in this world that the plain speakers stand out. It’s not necessary to have a large vocabulary, only that a truth be plainly spoken or a position be firmly taken. No hedge. No qualifier. Nothing slimy. No question about where you stand. In “The Deer Hunter” DeNiro’s character didn’t say “this may be this,” did he? Uh uh. “This is this. This ain’t something else. This is this.” Clear, without qualifier, free of slime.

From now on, you’re on your own.

 

Pigeon-holed? How Accurate?

Do you get the feeling that there are folks out there who are quite certain that they have you totally figured out simply by observing you? You know, judging the book by the cover and all. People make all kinds of grand statements, extrapolating from ever smaller glimpses of us, ever tinier aliquots of information or observation. Tall or short? Man or woman? Dark or light?

Sometimes it’s a single person looking at you, or looking at the world you occupy, and leaping to some sweeping conclusion based on that brief view. Can you really discern what makes me tick, or how I truly feel about some global issue about which you might care deeply, by how and when I Tweet for example, or what I “Like” on FB? You watch me in the supermarket as I push my basket, or you follow me at B&N and peek at my keepers and my discards, and from this you make a statement about all white males of a certain age?

A lesson lies here for each of us, whether we sit in the seat of the observer or the observed. The shotgun is more likely to hit its mark if the target is closer to the muzzle.

Is Truly Better Care Truly Worth It?

A recent study looked at survival statistics for colon cancer. While >90% of patients with early stages of colon cancer survive at least 5 years, the 5 year survival rate for advanced cancer is only 12%. One of the conclusions from that study is that the increased survival rate of cancer detected early justifies wider scale screening for this deadly disease. Makes sense, right? Find the cancer early and you live longer. The problem here, of course, is that the incidence of colon cancer in a broadly chosen group of individuals is actually rather small making both the cost of making the diagnosis as well as the “cost” of any complications from the screening test prohibitive. Whether or not to screen is a very complex question. This is a version of “better care” but it is probably not worth the cost unless we can find some way to identify an at-risk population.

Let’s say there’s a brand new test that allows you to identify another, different, important disease years, perhaps decades earlier than is now feasible. It is possible to narrowly define a population of patients at high risk of having the disease. Utilizing this test will provide physicians the opportunity to treat this disease before it causes irreversible destruction of vital organs, destruction which renders present day care of this disease when it is presently diagnosed little more than palliation.  The effects of this disease in later stages cause dramatic negative changes in the lifestyle of affected patients. There appear to be ways to treat the disease in its earliest stages in order to prevent the ravages of its late stages. Do you initiate testing in the at-risk population?

Let’s think about it.

What if the test is relatively easy, relatively painless, but relatively pricey? Remember, you can identify a population for this test that is at risk to have the disease based on patient history and physical exam criteria, making the percentage of people afflicted (incidence of disease) relatively high in the tested group. The weakness of many screening programs (routine colonoscopy for colon cancer for example) as noted above is that the disease is either relatively uncommon, or it is impossible to identify a truly at-risk group. This is not a problem with our hypothetical test. Let’s make the test very accurate, too, say 95% sensitive and 95% specific in any study group; the number of both false positives and false negatives would be very low. This would make it more useful than serum lipids when screening for cardiac risk, for example. While we’re at it, this test is extremely safe with no real risks. It sounds like a pretty strong case to roll it out, right?

Now would be a really good time to go back to one of the earliest things every medical student is (was?) taught about ordering a test: the result of your test should in some way influence your care of the patient. A positive test result should prompt you to do something differently from a negative result. If your course of action would be identical with each/every possible result it is entirely reasonable to ask why you are doing the test in the first place. Our new test meets this threshold. A negative result means continue with “standard operating procedure”, treating a patient with the constellation of symptoms and signs you have identified as you have been. A positive test, on the other hand, obligates you to enlist the assistance of another specialist, and furthermore to insist that your patient receive treatment that is not yet in any way considered standard. Therein lie the problems.

Many, if not most complex medical problems require the engagement of a specialist in order that the patient receive the most up to date and effective  treatment. Contrary to the popular notion that we only have a shortage of Primary Care doctors in the U.S., every family doc will tell you that it is nearly impossible to find a rheumatologist, dermatologist, neurologist, endocrinologist or various other medical specialists to take care of a new, complex patient. Imagine if you have a new test that identifies 1 million or 2 million or MORE new patients whose disease requires one of these specialists to run the show? What if the effective treatment that will be proposed is off-label (FDA approved for something else) and extremely expensive? What now? Remember, failure to identify these patients early and treat them before irreversible damage occurs dooms them to progressive misery as they age. What’s the call?

This would be truly better care. Is it truly worth it? Who should make the call?

In the abstract it’s a different question, and without the context of knowing what disease is involved also makes it somewhat more difficult to analyze this in any meaningful way. Let’s face it, some diseases simply carry more emotional weight than others, and this would likely increase the amount of money that anyone faced with this question would be willing to spend. The question itself is hardly abstract at all, however. Just today I read about tests for Alzheimer’s Disease and Sjögren’s Syndrome that will allow for extremely accurate diagnoses made dramatically earlier than we are now capable. Unaware of the diagnosis physicians and patients have no opportunity to consider treatment; if you can’t take a temperature you can’t find a fever. Without the ability to make an early diagnosis pharmaceutical companies have no incentive to evaluate treatments that will prevent the scourge of late-stage disease. This is the situation on the ground today.

The challenge will come as these tests are put into routine use and we identify large numbers of patients whose eventual course in the absence of treatment is well-known. Who will care for them if we already face a shortage of specialists in these fields? Uncertain of a return on the investment necessary to prove the efficacy of treatments for these diseases, what pharmaceutical company will do the studies that will show the benefit of treatment? With these new treatments likely to be very expensive, will insurance companies and the government pay the costs of the care? In the abstract these tests and the treatments that will follow certainly constitute better care. Will it be worth the cost?

Who makes that call?

In A War, But Not At War

There are real wars afoot. Not silly PR wars or Rap Battles or video games, but real, live shooting and killing wars. Admit it, you’ve barely noticed.

As I prepare to launch into a new topic for my next round of “serious” reading (I am slowly working my way through the very heavy science in “Waterlogged”) I stumbled upon a curious historical overlay. My daily newspaper sat on a coffee table under which sat a picture of a paper from the 1940′s. We have been at war in the United States, no matter how you care to characterize that war, for much longer than the entirety of WWII. Yet the tenor of our homeland experience could not be more different.

The books I’ve got cued up are “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” by Ben Fountain, and “Redeployment” by Phil Klay, the first discovered in that newspaper above, the other from an interview of the author on the radio while driving to work (note: Evernote is brilliant for remembering that kind of stuff). Thus far I’ve successfully avoided reading a full review of either, having discovered in the first 2 sentences of a NYT review that there’d be more editorializing on the reviewer’s part than reviewing. Your mileage may vary, of course, especially if you agree with the reviewer.

What’s drawn me to these two particular books, indeed what has drawn me to this topic, is the conversational emphasis in both. Each is written from the points of view and in the voices of soldiers and Marines talking about being in a war. Driving to work this week I was struck by the complete absence of these voices in my life. Looking at the front page of a newspaper ca. 2014 beside the image from 1946 it’s clear that my experience is not unique. We have had men and women in a war for some 12 years now, but we are hardly a nation AT war, at least in comparison with our nation ca. 1946.

We barely talk about war, about Iraq, Afghanistan, or Al Qaida at all, while America in the 40′s talked about little else. If my experience is typical there is very, very little conversation that occurs between those who have served and those who have not, even though the length of our present wars has likely generated a similar number of war veterans walking among us then and now. Were the conversations of war only on the front page back then? Was there so little discourse about what it means to have been in a war when the veterans returned in the 40′s, too?

The United States has experienced exactly 3 incidences in which our country has been attacked since the Civil War. All of our wars and conflicts since then have been prosecuted on the soil of other lands. This is no less true now than it was in 1945, no less true following 9/11 than it was after Pearl Harbor. The towering strength of the U.S. economic engine insulates us today from the daily sharing of the war effort as completely as our new information technology makes the wars almost completely available for viewing. Interesting dichotomy, huh? War footage on demand, up to the minute, up close and personal, no war bonds or fuel rationing required.

It’s different now, you say. It’s not the same now as it was then, you add. Is that really true, though? All wars are unjust and all wars are just; which it is depends only on which team you’re on at what time. Did those who hated the wars of yesteryear hate them any less than now? Is the aftermath of being in war any greater or lesser now than then? Never having served, never having been in war, I have no standing to say, but from afar it doesn’t seem any less terrifying to have been detonated by a mortar in a WWI trench or bazooka in a WWII tank or an IED in a Humvee in Fallujah.

And there’s my point. I don’t know. There is no conversation, no opportunity to know. I don’t know why that is. I don’t think we need to re-introduce war bonds or ration nylons (imagine the carnage at Victoria’s Secret) to know we are at war. What I do think is that we will continue to have a disconnect between young people in a war and their country not at war until we engage in those conversations. War always seems to find us, for whatever reason, even when we are mostly minding our own business. We should know more about what it means to be at war.

When you come home from the War I’ll be ready to listen and to learn whenever you are ready to talk.

 

The CrossFit Open: You’re In!

Once upon a time I came to the “comments” section of CrossFit.com several times each day to check in on my cyber-gym mates. Heady days, those, with >1000 posts on a “Fran” day, for example. The explosive growth of the Affiliate model has drawn most people to a local Box, and what we shared so many years ago is now shared locally and regionally rather than in one central place.

Except during Open Season, that is. This is our soccer World Cup, Olympics, and Mardi Gras, all wrapped up into 5 weeks. More than 200,000 of us are signed up, doing the WODs, posting our results, and Scoreboard Watching, “Leaderboarding”. Who got what? Where do I stand? Did you see that score from Kenya? Even if you, like me, simply use the Open WODs as a check on your own fitness, or even as just another day of training, there is still something just enough different, just special enough to make it seem like a bigger deal even if you won’t even see the middle of the Bell Curve of results.

I think it’s because you’re in. For the price of 3 Mocha Grandes at ChichiBucks you are as in as anyone and everyone else. For 5 weeks the Leaderboard is today’s equivalent of the old Main Page CrossFit.com “comments” section. And if the previous 3 CrossFit Opens are any indication the WODs will allow pretty much everyone who signed up to STAY in, too. I’m sticking with my contention that the Open is a great, big, wide open funnel that not only feeds into the Regionals but also stays open at the top each week so that most of us will stay somewhere on that Leaderboard. Everyone with the CrossFit basics in their quiver can take a shot each week. The folks running this show will see to that. The CrossFit Open is nothing less than the largest single participatory athletic event in the world today.

This is fun. The CrossFit dinner table becomes a banquet hall for 5 weeks, the old CrossFit.com writ large. So pass the Kettlebells and don’t hog the Wall Balls. Yell and cheer as loud as you’d like. Don’t worry a bit about making too much noise. Grandma and Grandpa signed up, too!

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