I have been procrastinating on writing this post about my experience watching Katrin compete at this year’s Games because, to be totally honest with you, it was such an emotional roller coaster for me. The whole season, not even just this past week.
This was a year that I don’t think anyone in our family, including Katrin, will ever forget. So much happened this year, so many unexpected things, that this Games competition felt like closure on a year full of the best…and, a year of the worst.
Literally, a year, to the day.
Last year, I clearly remember none of us going into the 2015 Games thinking Katrin was going to end up in 1st place. We were thinking more like a top 10 finish, but not 1st. Now, I’m sure everyone in the top 20 is thinking and hoping that they end up there, but when you sit back and put a “realistic” expectation on your outcome, I don’t think many people are thinking they’re going to win the CrossFit Games.
That is, most of us were thinking top 10…except for her grandma, Amma. I can almost guarantee you Amma was 100% confident that Katrin would do it. And, as many of you know, we lost Amma earlier this Spring. With almost no warning, with no chance for Katrin to say goodbye to her best friend and soul mate, and with no shot of her to be there in Carson with all of us cheering her on again this year.
As Ben’s family, I think we’ve all gotten very good at “sharing”. I want to be careful to not say that we “sacrifice” a lot for him to be the sort of coach that he wants to be, because I do feel like that word implies that you may feel a certain amount of resentment for things that you don’t get or do anymore because of your situation.
And, to be totally honest, I did feel like that for a long time. I felt like we “sacrificed” a lot of weekends while Ben was going to watch his athletes at Open Announcements, weekends when he would do appearances at events all over the country, weeks when he would travel to places or host seminars and camps here at CFNE that would feature his Games athletes, a lot of quiet family dinners and Sunday afternoons when his athletes would be with us and they would spend the whole day talking about training and nutrition instead of watching kids movies and playing Uno on the living room floor.
But, something really pivotal happened in my head when we lost Amma. I realized just how much Katrin had given up so that she could come here and fully commit to training with Ben and reaching her own personal athletic goals.
She has a beautiful life up in Iceland. That is her home. That is where her family is. That is where her friends are. That is her life. Well, that was her life until she realized she needed to “share” that life with her life here with us. Katrin has never, ever used the word “sacrifice” to describe that shift because that’s not how she thinks about it. She feels so grateful for the opportunity to be here with Ben to train, to be part of our Bergeron family, and to have served as the one that has joined her family at home with her family down here in the US.
When I finally realized how much Katrin has “given up” to be here with us, I decided that I would try to never again feel any sort of resentment for “sacrificing” our family time with Ben so that he could help these work with these athletes. Cole is the same thing; he “sacrifices” so much time away from his wife who he loves and misses terribly when he’s here that I can’t let myself think of it negatively. These are not “sacrifices” any longer. They are us sharing and building relationships with each other for a common purpose, a common goal. We just need to help each other along in the process, on both sides.
I remember hearing the announcer, many times, at the Games introduce her before each event as “Katrin Davidsdottir from CrossFit New England” and wondering how she felt about that. I couldn’t help but think about how weird that would feel for me to be introduced as a member of an affiliate other than my own. We take great pride in the gyms we represent as they truly are like a special sort of family to many of us.
So, I asked her.
I asked her if it sounded weird to her that her name was attached to CFNE and not CrossFit Reykjavik, her gym in Iceland.
She thought about it for a second, she did that thing with her eyes where she becomes very serious and looks down at the ground while the wheels start to crank in her head in an effort to produce a very honest and genuine answer, and she said, “No. I love CFNE. I love the people there. It feels like home to me.”
Her response almost made me tear up, sort of like I’m doing right now as I write this.
Hearing someone so loyal and devoted to her other home, it just meant so much to me to hear that she felt that strongly about the place that I call home. It made me incredibly proud of the community and family that we’ve created at CFNE, and proud that someone else would feel so comfortable there to call it their home.
I knew what she meant. I knew she wasn’t saying that she doesn’t feel like that about CFR, but more that she has found another home away from home. Sort of the way she’s found a new family away from her family at home. In the same way that her family is sad to not have her around yet so grateful to have a family that loves her so much, I only hope that’s how her CFR community feels about sharing her with CFNE.
But, I will say that another pivotal moment for me in my relationship with Katrin was the point in the final workout when I really believed that she had lost her title, that she had finished 2nd overall at the 2016 CrossFit Games. That’s what I thought based on how far behind she finished that workout.
I was hysterical. I cried. I felt sick. I felt like someone had hurt and turned on our family. I felt like justice had not been served. I felt like a helpless mother of a child I love with all of my heart. I felt like I needed to protect her and save her from the walls that seemed to be caving in around her as she sat on that crash pad while a cameraman relentlessly filmed her just inches away from her face for what seemed like an eternity. It felt endless. I hated him for doing that to her, but loved him for capturing that moment.
I loved him for capturing a moment when I felt something I had never felt before. I have never genuinely thought of another human being on the planet as a member of our Bergeron family the way that I had felt about Katrin at that very moment. It was surreal.
I pulled myself together for a second and started to do the math. I pulled up the leaderboard, put 2 and 2 together, and realized that if I had done my calculations right that she had, in fact, won the Games. Now, since I am HORRIFIC at math and things like leaderboard standings, I couldn’t trust that I was right. I was left at the mercy of Dave Castro’s dramatic announcement where he acts like he’s announcing who gets the final rose on The Bachelor.
I remember seeing him finally grab the microphone, turn from the officials table, and start to walk away towards the middle of the competition floor in that way when you know he knows who won and he’s going to make you sit there and squirm until he’s good and ready to share it with you.
Which is exactly what he did.
But, the moment he brought the mic up to his mouth and I heard him say something like, “Again…” I lost it.
Like, I. Lost. It.
It was embarrassing. And, the people sitting around me, I’m sure, had no clue what was wrong with me. I’m sure they had no idea how connected I am to Katrin. So, they probably just thought I was a stalker or drunk or high…or, all three.
I was so happy for her. So selflessly happy for her, like the way you only get for own children.
Man alive, I am telling you it was one of the greatest feelings of relief and pride and love and everything that I can remember ever feeling. And, for a human being that I didn’t even give birth to.
That is not an emotion that just happens. That is a product of a human being that has proved to be trustworthy, dedicated to being a real part of our family unit, making it more than worth all of our time to have Ben be away from our family when he would otherwise be there, taught us all the value of discipline and committing yourself to a goal…and, following through with it, made us laugh until we cried, cried with us over movies that brought up our past and our worst fears, stayed focused on the little things even when the big things tried to take over, and listened…like, really listened…when we needed change.
I love Katrin Davidsdottir. I really do. Honestly, like she’s my own.
And, I hope to spend the rest of my life wanting to protect her from injustice, to save her when the walls cave, to love her when her real mother can’t be there with her, and to make her understand that just when we felt like we had hit our limit on the number of humans we felt capable of having in our family…we realized there was just enough room left for her.
I love you, girl. But, I love feeling like your make-shift mother more than I could ever have imagined.