Emily Carothers set for CrossFit debut

Courtesy Stephanie Dyane

As a gymnast, Emily Carothers had her routines down to the very last detail. At the CrossFit Games, she'll have to be more flexible.

When Emily Carothers enters the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games in Carson, Calif., later this week, she will be box jumping into new territory.

"This is a totally different door than I've ever walked through before," said the 31-year-old mother of two, who qualified for the Games at the Northwest Regionals.

But Carothers, who trains at Maple Valley CrossFit in Maple Valley, Wash., was a Division I gymnast at the University of Washington, so she's not new to high-stakes competition. Not to mention that she's spent between two to three hours a day, six days a week, preparing for her national debut.

"I don't have any expectations," Carothers said. "I just want to be as competitive as I can be and leave it all out there."

Carothers talks about what she's hoping for, and how she prepares.

Spinning the wheel

Unlike other CrossFit competitions, the Games keep the events and competition details under wraps until shortly before the event kicks off. As a gymnast, I trained for perfection in each of my routines, but this format requires a different mentality. Because I don't know exactly what I'll be doing -- they do release some details the week prior -- I have to be well-rounded in all capacities, and rely on all the hard work I've put in.

Organizers: Take a memo

In an ideal world, I would love for the competition to have pull-ups, muscle-ups, handstand walk -- basically, anything that has a gymnastic background. I also really enjoy the clean-and-jerk ladder: You start with a lighter load, and every 90 seconds, you have to lift an incrementally heavier load. My lower body isn't as strong. I've got a small injury right now. Actually, it's not that small: I have a torn labrum in my hip. When the squatting loads get really heavy, it's pretty painful. And dead lifts just mess with me mentally. Not sure why, but they're definitely not my favorite.

About those pull-ups

At regionals, during the first of seven workouts, I was in the middle of the pack through the 1,000-meter row and 50 reps of a Thruster [a variation on a front squat] using 45 pounds, and then I pulled into the lead for the last part: 30 pull-ups. [She finished that sequence in 6 minutes, 25 seconds.] That was a great way to start the competition for me.

Inside her own head

I don't like to go to the warm-up area too early, otherwise I just look around at everybody else and lose my focus. So I come in at the last minute, keep things as short as possible and then get moving. Same thing right before an event begins: I don't look around at the crowd or the challenges up ahead and think, "I hope I can lift that." I just tell myself to go hard and stay calm.

The first key to success ...

Although I eat a healthy diet, the only real nutritional thing I pay attention to is my protein intake; I try to keep it as high as I possibly can. If I'm low on protein, I just feel exhausted and crash during my workouts. My typical breakfast is a combination of eggs, avocado and turkey. Lunch always has two chicken-breast patties. I have two small sons, so dinner is more of a family affair, but if we have something like tacos, I'll load up on the meat. I also get protein from Greek yogurt and beef jerky.

And the second

Athletes usually have at least two events per day, which means you really have to pay attention to recovery. I like to get in an ice bath as soon as I can, down a protein-heavy recovery drink and then just lounge around. If I can get a massage, I do that too.

Home team

My husband and I are going to be in California for a week, which is the longest I've ever been away from my boys, ages 1 and 3. I'm a little overwhelmed by that, but I'll FaceTime with them at night. And when I get back, I'll go into the offseason, when I'm in the gym for less than an hour a couple times a week. I'm excited for the Games, but my kids are my priority.

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