For as long as I have been a part of the crossfit community here in Miami, Wodapalooza has been a mecca for athletes of all skill levels from all around the world. Just last year, when I spectated the event, I promised myself that I, too, would one day be on that competition floor. What I didn’t know was that “one day” would be this past Wodapalooza.

On February 3rd, just 17 days before the commencement of Wodapalooza 2020, I was invited to compete on a scaled team. The team would consist of myself and three other Team Soul athletes. I hesitated to accept the invite as I was doubtful of my ability to keep up with them. Nevertheless, I accepted because I knew it would challenge me both physically and mentally – a necessity if I wanted to grow as an athlete. And so, on that day Team Soul World Order was born (shoutout to Leslie, Lamar, and Jordan).

Up until that point, I barely knew my teammates. The next 18 days would be critical for our evolution into a team. The volume of work was much higher than I was used to, but my team members encouraged me all throughout – a foreshadow of what competition weekend would be like.

Before I knew it, it was Thursday, February 20th, opening day of Wodapalooza. I woke up that day overwhelmed with anxiety but excited for what was ahead. I tried to reassure myself that no matter what happened, we would have fun.

Walking into Bayfront Park Friday morning was surreal, I couldn’t believe that I had an athlete lanyard draped around my neck. Part of me, however, still felt unsure of myself. It wasn’t until I made my way to the Soul tent that I finally felt at ease. The Soul fam showed me nothing but love and support that morning. I received tons of hugs and affirmative statements, which settled any qualms that still lingered in my mind. I finally felt ready to take on WZA weekend.

Day one of the competition was probably my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, the ‘Pace Boat Test’ was indeed awful, but I rowed harder than I ever had – proving to myself that I was capable of much more than I thought. Event 2, ‘Pump Session,’ was another great feat for our team. We managed to shave about 2 minutes off of our practice time. The adrenaline was invigorating, and that translated into our performance.

Day two, proved to be the most challenging for our team. I’m not a strong swimmer, so the ‘Shark Bait’ event (or as we like to call it ‘Manatee Bait’) was simply put, tough. Nonetheless, I surprised myself and finished the swim. There was something about being on a team that made the toughest of hurdles easy to overcome.

The third and final day brought even more learning experiences. I owe it to my team for continually demanding more of me when I didn’t think I could row any faster or when I wanted to drop a barbell. Wodapalooza was not easy in any sense — we worked our asses off all weekend. What did make it easier was having such a supportive and enthusiastic crew at my side for those three days. I’m grateful to have shared the WZA experience with you all.

Sunday night I left Wodapalooza physically and mentally drained, but excited to get back into training. I’m now hungrier than I ever have been to improve my athletic capabilities. Thank you to Wodapalooza, my team, and the Soul community for this amazing experience.