In October 2012 I discovered CrossFit and since my life has never been the same. I drank the “Kool-Aid” like many others. I was 32 years old with virtually no athletic background and the youngest of 5 girls. Growing up we could not afford to play sports, nor did my parents have the time to drive us to games and practices for them. My dad was a grocery store manager and my mom was a secretary at the telephone company. Their priority was to keep us fed, and well…I’m still here so I guess they did a good job.
In the 9th and 10th grade, I ran some cross-country and did high jump in the off-season. Looking back I wish I had stuck with it. I was a foolish child and let it slip away. Rather, I was attracted to keg parties and boys. I wish I understood at the time the importance of sports. A few years later my life took a much different turn as the opportunity to travel and live in other places took my attention. By 23 I had my first child. I quickly realized I had never loved until I saw her precious little face. This became my purpose in life and I was up for the job. Four years later I had my second daughter. One year after that I was divorced and was doing it all on my own, financially and physically.
After doing CrossFit for just two months, I had grown physically and mentally in ways I couldn’t have possibly imagined. Then, in late November 2012, I had a violent seizure while I was sleeping. I woke up in South Nassau hospital and was told I had a pretty sizable tumor that had put pressure on my carotid artery. Surgery was set for Thanksgiving Day and I was thankful. I required no further treatment other than the removal of the tumor, some of the surrounding tissue, and my hyoid bone, which sits in the front of the neck. When I woke up from surgery I asked, “When I can workout again?” and the doctors simply said, “Let’s get you into recovery”.
I had some numbness in my right arm after surgery that of course concerned me. It turns out I had a herniated C5 disk that was put under some pressure during the surgery. The orthopedic told me I could never lift overhead again. Luckily, I had a coach at the time that also had a C5 disk herniation. He assured me it would definitely not hold me back once I was healed.
Right away I began rowing to assure no fitness would be lost. I didn’t row well, but I had power. I had an early hip opening, early pull, and no vertical shin. I had blind strength, no “off” button, and was driven. I wanted to maximize every bit of the little time I had to workout. Being a single mom and running my own business did not leave me much time, but it made me strong.
Eventually, as I spent more time on the rower I got better. I considered it my “strength” in CrossFit. If the WOD had rowing in it, I was going crush it! The Concept2 indoor rower helped build my strength as well as my conditioning.
In 2013, I qualified for my first CrossFit Games Regionals. I was so pumped. Yet, three days before I was set to leave I tripped while chasing my youngest daughter and broke my ankle. Devastated, I didn’t miss a single day of training and in 2014 I qualified again where I took 27th place in the ruthless North East region. I went team that year with CrossFit Garden City and was hungry for more in 2015.
However, after finishing The Open that year I was heartbroken to find out my journey was ending there. I was by no means the athlete these other women were. I’m a mom, a full-time aesthetician/business owner and I was getting older, yet I was close enough to know it was possible to dance on the same floor as them.
The hope to compete again was dashed by a nagging back injury that kept me from The Open in 2016, and an unexpected breast surgery in February that year. But once again, I turned to the rower. I couldn’t run, but I could row. I couldn’t lift, but I could row. Also, this time on the rower I learned how to use it right.
To my fortune, I was introduced to Dark Horse Rowing by Rob Carson, who met Shane in San Diego. He urged me to join the program and to do the drills that would eventually fix my form and save valuable energy I was losing.
When I could not compete in CrossFit I could row and it made all the difference. I’m now happy to teach to others what I have learned through my time with the rower to help improve their efficiency and overall fitness. My journey has been one of many ups and downs and I couldn’t be more grateful for the ability to pay it forward for everyone that helped me along the way.
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