Sara Ford: GameDay Competitions Athlete
If you’ve been around GameDay Competitions long enough, odds are that you have bumped into or competed against Sara Ford. Sara embodies everything we stand for at GameDay; have fun, be nice, push hard, inspire others and get to know yourself a little better via the competition floor.
Read on to get to know her, and just maybe, make a great new friend at the next GameDay Competition!
Oh, and Sara, we LOVE sweaty hugs – keep them coming! (And just so you know we are trying our darnedest to grow that Masters division to add age groups!!!!)
1) Just tell us a bit about yourself and your muggle (if you like Harry Potter) life outside of CrossFit; age? kids? job? spouse? where are you from? etc.
My wife and I have two great teenage boys. We live in St Paul. I work for the teachers union. I grew up spending a lot of time backpacking and canoeing and a lot of time on sports teams. Ever since our boys were 4 & 5, every summer we do a trip in the BWCA, and my mom, who is 77, comes with us. We just got off of a 4-day very rugged trip mostly in the pouring rain. She hoists up a Duluth pack at every portage, she paddles on and on with a smile on her face, and she keeps on trucking. It’s awesome. She inspires me.
Both of my boys enjoy my box’s CrossFit program for teens, called Junk Yard Dogs. I have marveled at what it has done for their self confidence.
2) Where do you workout?
I used to drive 35 miles to a gym in Edina, and then the PowerHouse and Side Door CrossFit opened up just 300 steps out my back door and down the alley, and I never looked back. The PowerHouse is home to a wonderful community of people of all ages and all abilities. It’s an incredibly supportive place where it is safe to stretch beyond your comfort zone.
3) What motivated you to start your fitness journey? and when did you start?
I was always super active, and then all of a sudden I had two young kids and life got really stressful. My own well-being took a back seat, and my health suffered. I wandered into a yoga class looking for stress relief, and that one class turned into an intense daily practice that lasted 4 years. Eventually, I got some chronic injuries from repetitive yoga movements, and I knew I needed both to change things up and to add strength work. That’s when my yoga practice morphed into an equally intensive CrossFit practice.
4) What motivated you to get out on the competition floor and compete with us?
Someone at my gym recommended it to me, and I was fascinated. I love competing, and outside of running races or recreational softball leagues, there are not many opportunities for people like me to participate in athletic competition.
5) What’s your favorite “cheat meal”? 🙂
A borgata pizza from Punch.
6) How many GameDay events have you attended?
I’ve competed in 5 GameDay events. I competed at Mankato in the masters division twice, the GameDay Championship twice (but I think it wasn’t called the championship the first time I did it), and I just competed at New Ulm, the first time I have competed on a team.
7) What’s your favorite and least favorite CrossFit movements?
Favorite: I get the greatest joy from skills I had to work really hard for. For me, that’s toes to bar, because I had to work so damn hard to get them!
Least favorite: right now it’s the clean and jerk. My lift is fairly heavy, but my form is BAD. The C&J and I need to break up, pretend we have never met, and start all over at the beginning. In two years, hopefully I will say the C&J is one of my favorites again, but I have a lot of repetitive, non-sexy, disciplined work ahead of me before I can say that.
8) What’s your most memorable GameDay moment?
Day two of GameDay Mankato in 2016. Day 1 did not go as I thought it would. I was not nearly as competitive in my division as I thought I would be, I lost my T2B altogether, and the workouts did not go the way I expected them to. I got super disorganized–my stuff was all over the place, I couldn’t settle on a basic warm up regimen, I lost track of a smart plan for fuel, and self doubt took over. A loud voice in my head said to go home. I felt beat, I felt I didn’t belong. I wanted to dig a hole and get in it.
So from my hotel room, I called my coach, Logan U’u, and promptly demonstrated to him that I was a hot mess who wanted to bail.
My coach reminded me that it didn’t matter whether I finished first or last. He reminded me of a lot of basic things that I somehow lost on the first day of competition. And he told me that I was going to stay in Mankato and finish the comp and that I was going to discover I had more to give than I knew. And because he is my beloved and trusted coach, I took his word for it.
Day two was awesome. I got through the chaos and the disorganization and the doubting. I just put it all down and headed into the second day focused only on the next rep. Once I finally put that shit down, I felt that I could fly.
I hit two PRs lifting right away, and I showed up for real for all of the events that day. I actually came in last in my division that day, but it was a complete win for me. I turned quickly to my judge after the last event, and he looked startled, like I was maybe going to argue about a no rep or something. But I just really needed to give him a big fat, sweaty, and, no doubt, unwanted hug. My coach was right. I was capable of so much more than my doubts and fears allowed me to see. You’ve got to put that shit down and see what’s on the other side of it. It’s a pretty spectacular feeling.
9) What’s your favorite thing about GameDay? basically, why do you choose to compete with us?
That’s the greatest lesson I have learned from GameDay comps. We spend so much time, in and out of the gym, focusing on things we can’t control, and that weighs us down so much that we might never even discover what we are capable of. But if we can learn to let go of all the crap we cannot control and focus instead on how we show up right here and right now, an entire universe of new possibilities opens up. That’s why I keep coming back.
I like to joke that a two-day GameDay comp is like a year’s worth of therapy packed into a single, intensive, really hard, and really fun weekend. Whatever holds you back in your daily life, your fears, doubts, anxiety, whatever it is, it will come up, and you will see so clearly how it holds you back, and then you get to actually choose whether to keep carrying it or put it down and move past it.
10) Anything we can do better?
I think you all do an amazing job. Your judges are supportive, clear, and fair, the staff always welcoming and approachable, the standards are clear. And even though my quads have not yet forgiven you guys for the thrusters and running event at New Ulm, they will get over it, and I can still say that your programming is well designed. Your comps are just really damned fun.
I do wish that the masters cut off was not 35. That makes sense in a landscape of five-year age divisions, but as a single cut off, it’s awfully low. I also realize that 50 year olds are not beating down your registration doors and you can’t make divisions for people you don’t have, but I think they should be!
11) What are your goals moving forward in life and CrossFit?
CrossFit goals: Three years ago, I set a goal of hitting my 50th birthday in the best shape of my life, and hitting the 50-54 masters division as competitively as possible. I turn 50 next month, so now is the time.
Life goals: to show up fully and honestly so that I might squeeze all the life and love out of this journey that I can, and so that I might be brave enough to live with integrity and help others.