In 2012, qualifying three individual CrossFit athletes to Regionals from one gym would have been impressive. In 2017, it’s downright next to impossible.
But this exactly the feat Raincity Athletics in Vancouver, B.C. managed to accomplish this year. Three Raincity ladies will be competing in the individual competition in Portland in two-and-a-half weeks.
Taryn Haggerstone will be making her third regionals appearance, while Charli Anobile—who qualified in 4th in the CrossFit Open—and Janel Brine will be competing as individuals for the first time.
All three admit that having such competitive athletes to compete against day-in-day-out undoubtedly helped their training this year, as well as their Open performances.
Left to right: Brine, Anobile, Haggerstone
“To quote (author) Jim Rohn, ‘You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.’ Taryn and Janel bring out the competitive drive in me that has been dormant since I stopped competing in track and field in university, but in the best, healthiest way possible. Because we all have different strengths, we bring out the best of each other. They make me a better athlete,” Anobile said.
Haggerstone added: “We’re all pretty different as athletes—different strengths and weaknesses—so our pacing and strategies for each of the (Open) workouts was quite different, but I think that being together and seeing how we all did definitely helped to raise the bar."
“Training with the girls has been amazing, humbling and has helped me improve more than I could ever express…I couldn’t have done it without them,” Brine said.
Another person who helped all three realize their Regionals dream is their coach Liz Carrier, who moved to Vancouver from CrossFit Nola in New Orleans in the summer of 2016. Raincity owner Simon Damborg immediately recognized Carrier’s talent and hired her to coach the competitive program at his gym.
“I can’t thank Liz enough for how much she has helped me get to this level of competitive CrossFit. Having a coach period made a huge difference to my training—holding me accountable, having a sounding board, someone to talk strategy with,” Anobile said. “Liz is a programming genius and within six months of training, my main weaknesses had become my strengths. On average, all my lifts increased by 30 lb.”
Carrier has also helped Anobile with her mental game. Anobile admitted she was mentally and physically burnt out after placing 127th in the Open in Canada East last year. Such was not the case this year.
“Liz made sure I was prepped physically for whatever Open workout showed up in 2017 and lent me some books from the Library of Liz about mental toughness during Open training…My experience was so much better this year,” she said.
Brine and Haggerstone also offered their praise:
“She’s really good at pinpointing in on what you need to work on and programming specifically for that versus just doing volume for the sake of doing volume,” Haggerstone said.
Brine added: “Just a month before I heard about Liz, I remember thinking that I felt like I was in the worst shape I had been since the 2016 Open and then all of a sudden I was crushing the Open beyond my expectations and now I’m going to Regionals. Surreal.”
Though Anobile, Brine and Haggerstone all credit Carrier’s programming and coaching with taking them to the next level, Carrier humbly explains she was dealt a good hand and is not surprised by her athletes' success.
“I have been really lucky—moving to Vancouver in August, getting an opportunity from Simon to work at Raincity, and then finding people like Charli, Janel and Taryn who were willing to take a chance on working with a new coach. I knew based on their numbers and previous Open finishes that all three of them had the potential to quality for Regionals,” Carrier said.
“But it’s one thing to say that, and another to actually go through the workouts and perform up to their potential for five weeks with all the stress and uncertainty of the Open," she added.
Though Carrier isn’t surprised all three qualified, Brine admitted she surprised herself.
“It was a pretty big dream for me but I didn’t think it would actually happen,” she said.
Since qualifying, the trio has been training together as often as they can, especially since Dave Castro announced this year's events.
Though an exciting time of year, Carrier explained it hasn't been an easy few months.
“I will be honest in saying the journey between the Open and Regionals can be rough. It’s difficult mentally to go from the high of succeeding at the Open and qualifying for Regionals to the grind of training for Regionals, where the skill level and workout demands are much much higher, and even your best effort in one particular event might mean you're time-capped or simply finish middle of the pack at best,” she said. “It's also not a time of year with a lot of variety in training, especially now that we know what the Regionals events are. It’s time to fine-tune pacing and strategy, get a little bit stronger, and prepare to enjoy the Regionals experience.”
Her number one goal heading into Portland is to help each of her athletes focus on her own individual game, she added.
“Whether that means writing down warm-ups beforehand, helping them with pacing strategies, or mimicking the Regionals schedule of two workouts a day so they now how (for example) their triceps are going to feel going into Event 5 on Sunday…my goal is to help them figure out how to set them up to be the best version of themselves at Regionals.”
Haggerstone is expecting a different experience this year than in 2016.
“Last year, I definitely had a few times when I felt pretty alone at Regionals, especially in the athlete area. Not that I didn't know anyone or that the other athletes weren't friendly or anything, but it’s not the same as being there with people who you've trained with and gotten close to all year…And I let myself get too caught up with how well I was—or wasn’t—doing in comparison to everyone else, and that broke me a bit. Also I think having Liz there to coach will make a big difference. Having a coach isn't just about someone telling you what to do the day of. It's all the things leading up to the competition as well.”
All this has helped Haggerstone feel more at ease and excited this year.
“That feeling you get right before they call you out into the floor—a combination of butterflies, excitement and knowing that this is what you have worked for for all year—I love that, because I feel so I alive. That and having Charli and Janel there with too,” she said, adding she's most excited for the first event.
Anobile, who has never even been to watch a regionals competition, added: “I think being all together at Regionals will bring us all some comfort on the competition floor or in the warm-up area since it will feel a little like training at home together on a weekend. I am looking forward to not being alone at my first Regionals.”
“I need them more than I probably express at the gym,” Brine added.
All three say their primary goal is just to have fun and enjoy the experience, but as any CrossFit athlete knows, competition has the ability to raise your game beyond your wildest expectations.
“This is one of those 'making the impossible' possible stories for me.” - Anobile