"Just have fun and don't finish last."

People always tell me before their first competition that they are nervous or anxious about the event. My response is always the same, "Have fun and don't be last!"

Well, yesterday, I had to take heed to my own words while competing at CrossFit Reach's Annual FallFest. After years of training at an intense level trying to be the best and driven solely by being on the podium at the end of a competition day, I decided to take some time off.

15 Months is a long time to take off of a CrossFit competition...

15 months to be exact.

The decision came from my body, needing to recover and heal, and my heart needing to reconnect with friends and family who I neglected while dedicating myself to training. The time off worked wonders for me allowing me to reevaluate my goals and the direction I was headed in life as an athlete and a person. I made tremendous gains in my professional career and took great strides to getting out and enjoying life.

This all stemming from a clear head and all the free time I had from not working out as much. Which brings me to an interesting point. How can a coach, a mentor, a teacher, whomever, bring out the best in others if he/she can't bring out the best in themselves? 

I think there's something extremely powerful in being able to bring out the talents in others...and I don't speak for every CF coach out there when I say this, but I do believe it benefits others when you take time to gear down, focus on yourself and come back at it with renewed energy. It's the same reason why people take vacations and get 'unplugged' from their life. There's some powerful stuff in taking time off from anything. 

Fast forward to yesterday's competition. Now, completely rejuvenated as a person I came back to compete for the first time since my hiatus. But, this time there was no intense training leading up to it and no focus or mention of winning, This time I just simply showed up to have fun and wouldn't you know it I didn't finish last!

It wasn't easy at CrossFit Reach, but we pushed through and wrapped up 8th in the RX division.

Finishing in 8th place was nothing to brag about. But, the amount of fun I had, the support I drew from my peers, the comfort I experienced being in that atmosphere and not once feeling the pressure of winning was a great victory for me. While my days of competing are behind me, I proved to myself I can still be involved in the sport without missing a beat in life if my goal is to simply "Have fun and don't be last!" 

Will I be back at future competitions? Sure. But coaching is my love, my passion and helping others strive towards their fitness goals is something I'll never back down from. 

P.S. Go Team Reebok CF One. 

Shoot me an email with any questions, or follow me on Twitter via the button below. Hope to catch you on a beach trip like Costa Rica soon...stay tuned for more from the VRX crew. 

- Larry Thomas 

Scope a few more pictures from our time at CrossFit reach in the gallery below. Huge shout out to CrossFit Reach and RX Photography for making this all happen.