It’s another warm day in Southern California, the sun is pounding the pavement outside of a local home improvement store where Margaux is found in the garden section unloading and loading a wheelbarrow with varying fertilizer packages. She loads a 20# bag a 40# bag and an 80# bag to simulate the sandbags that will be used in the 2nd event of the 2015 Games.
She practices, and considers all possibilities…..Minimize mistakes, what are the rules, what is the plan, a tip of the wheelbarrow will be costly, how should we arrange the bags, slow is smooth, smooth is fast, again!
In 2013, just two years prior to this, with the same sun pounding the Northern California Regionals, Margaux was again found reciting her plan as she walked to her final event. With only rope climbs, squat cleans and some shuttle runs left, she was sitting in 4th place, 11 points out of the top 3, making her chances of making a trip to Carson slim. Our staging ground was 400m away from the warm up area so as we walked we only discussed the plan over and over,
“rope climb + rope climb, jog to bar, quick transition 2 full cleans drop bar follow it and 2 full cleans minimize transition, jog to rope……”
As her coach I knew what we needed and I knew it was out of her control, the scenario was not about making the games at that point but instead of finishing the year strong in order to build momentum for 2014. Rather than getting caught up on the what if’s we only talked about executing that work out. Coming into this competition, outside of her close circle, few would have thought, and few picked her as a favorite. This was Northern California, home of our sport, home of women like Jolie Gentry, Annie Sakamoto, Nicole Carroll, Jenny Labaw, and home of the first Games!
A year prior, 2012, in the same region, Margaux placed 17th in her first regional competition. Smiling with joy as she pr’d her Diane with a time of 6:36, later fighting the tears back during the final event as she tried so hard to get just one muscle up before time ran out, the muscle ups winning. Now 2013, she sat 11 points out of 3rd place, quite an accomplishment, it was a testimony of her stubborn diligence, consistency and determination, but it was not over. We knew her best event was coming up, the data suggested she would do well, and it was important she ended the year strong.
“minimize transition,” she continued to recite now in the warm up area she was focused, in a zone. You could see it in her eyes, she had this stare of tranquility, of peace, as if nothing else mattered, and she stayed in that zone all the way up to the starting line where the competitor names were announced.
“MARGAUX ALVAREZ,” the stare gave way to a huge smile and a wave to the crowd and again back in her zone, reciting her plan, in her mind she was prepared, it was time to execute, she was ready.
On paper, Margaux should not have made the Games that year, but she did. All week she stuck to her plan, she knew what she was capable of and she knew when she could take chances, but opted instead to follow the plan. What others were doing was irrelevant, how she placed after day one did not matter, we all had an idea of what was going to go well and what was not. She stuck to her game plan, and during the 100s when it looked impossible, she fought to get through the chest to bar pull ups as was expected at times doing singles, she then turned it up, and moved through the pistols and through the snatches fast. This happened all week, last in the first round of the 5th work out, breaking the deadlifts of 21 into 7/7/7 and passing everyone but two girls on the last round, it was the plan. The chipper she fought and struggled and again when she was no where to be seen, we all knew she would make a move going unbroken on the lunges and she did not disappoint passing all the competitors who put the bar down.
Her plan was based on her abilities, what her data showed us through the year, not what others thought they could do or what others showed they could do. Singles were ok that year, but rest had to be minimal, move while others are resting, minimize transition, every second counts. After 6 events she was hanging in there, and before she left to warm up her dad reminded how proud we were of her. We were so proud!
4 minutes and 48 seconds after the 3-2-1 go, she crossed the finish line in second place in the event. Her weekend and year were over in her mind and she was smiling and cheering others to finish strong. I asked her what she was thinking at that time, and she told me, ” I was happy to have had the opportunity to be out there, just happy to show how hard I have trained this year,” still unaware she had done enough to punch her ticket in.
I remember while she cheered others on, and as she danced out on the floor, I was busy looking at the numbers and possibilities. The girls in front of her were not doing so well on this particular event, and as soon as my phone died, I ran to the back finding one of my trusted friends Jacob Typskin. We entertained this idea that she in fact had made a move and was going to Carson over and over as he used his phone to refresh the scoreboard repeatedly. He smiled as he showed me the results, her name in the top 3!
There is more to success than showing up and just winning, we talked about Being Accountable to our goal in our previous blog, and we talk about preparing and executing today. There is so much we are not able to witness in success stories, and the most important phrase in our Mantra in regards to competition is preparation. NFL players spend hours in film rooms, hours in team meetings and in walk throughs each week, Special Forces Operators spend hours upon hours performing dry runs on upcoming hits, and Lawyers spend hours grilling witnesses days before asking every possible question imaginable. Professionals understand the importance of preparation, and how that carries out in executing the plan.
As the Super Bowl approaches this weekend it is only fitting to revisit last year’s winning play where Malcolm Butler, a rookie free agent at the time who had 0 interceptions and played only 4 passes in the regular season, was brought into a goal line 3 corner defensive set. Over 50 plays had been played, all equally important, in fact the linebacker Dont’a Hightower just prior to this play threw his blocker out of the way and stopped Marshawn Lynch the running back of the Seahawks from scoring which could be seen as the biggest play by some, if one wanted to argue value of plays. Seattle could have ran Lynch again, we will never know if he would of scored, what is known is Brandon Browner a new England Patriots cornerback, when seeing the Seahawks line up in their formation, instantly knew a pick was coming.
A week prior to this, the same formation was scouted by the Patriots in practice, but a week earlier Malcolm Butler was beat. No one was watching this play but the coaches , the players and the film. The play was later reviewed, and studied and adjustments discussed. As the New England Defense faced the last play of their year, Brandon Browner knew immediately to drop his receiver and jam the player closest to him. He pointed to Butler, before the start of the play, which gave Butler an understanding of what he had to do. Russel Wilson the quarterback for the Seahawks, unaware of how prepared the Patriots Corners were, released the ball just as Browner was jamming his player, Malcolm Butler sprinted to the ball with an open path he made the interception and dove down immediately, securing the ball and the game.
Prepare and Execute
Review your work
Enjoy the Journey