Katrin Davidsdottir hops in a grey four-door something-or-other; it’s not a cool car, nothing fancy or foreign, and nobody opens her door for her. She sits in the seat behind the driver and rolls down the window. I see this all from a few yards away as I drunkenly stumble across the parking lot of the Intercontinental Miami. To clarify, I am not drunk. Just a minute before I’d finished a murderous 20 min AMRAP of Assault Biking, Push-ups and Sandbag Runs under the unforgiving Floridian sun. And at the moment, I’m doing the dance that animals do as they’re dying, looking for a respectable place for my corpse to be found. I have my old school CrossFit FIG shirt over my shoulders and two FitAids in my right hand. One is open, the other is not and is in a koozie. As I go to wave, my shirts blows off my back to the ground. Katrin waves back and breaks out that trademark smile. I lean over to retrieve my shirt and try my best to smile back. The FitAid in the koozie slides out as I hinge over and begins to roll away. I look back up and Katrin is still right there, watching me struggling through my oxygen-depraved delirium. Finally I snatch my tee from the concrete, mistakenly kicking my errant FitAid even further away. Her car starts to pull off and she throws me a charity glance as to say ‘It’s gonna be okay.’ With the very last drop of my fuel reserves I stand tall and shout “Wear your safety belt!” Less than an hour later she wins the final two events of Wodapalooza 2018 and the competition itself. I like to think I contributed.
This is why I’m here. For a fitness festival. For 3 days I’ll wander in the wake of a triplet of fanatically driven women; Holly Ferrel, Lauren Kaye Weller, and the love of my life, Courtney Bliss Randolph. My role is part coach, part sherpa. They comprise Team Rep Republic—named after the clothing brand that I own half of. There’s a sneaky humor in the fact that they’re attending the second most popular CrossFit competition in the world representing a brand that almost no one knows exists. I find it whimsical yet anecdotal. They’re cool with it, and I’m so very proud of them.
Miami is a cityscape piece of performance art. Every building is being built bigger. It’s a den of neon in the tropical near-future. All the inhabitants are tan and fabulous. The atmosphere is thick with spice and buoyant with music. Culture is breaking the dams of all my senses and it ignites the human in me. I hate hot climates but in the time it takes you to walk from Wynwood to Midcity—through a corridor of world-class graffiti that I’ve only seen rivaled by the St. Louis flood wall or the LA River—I come to love Miami.
We eat breakfast every morning at a place called 10 Fruits. A corner eatery with Wikipedia articles as wallpaper. The staff suggest a specific Acai bowl so I order it. I come to find every meal I eat hereafter, for the remainder of my life, will be a lesser meal. Acai bowls, as it turns out, are the reason I was placed on this Earth.
Wodapalooza itself is a fever dream of consumerism, vanity, and—most admirably— spirit. Their motto is “Celebrate community, fitness and life.” Tickets are $100. Which is not nothing, yet pales in comparison to Games attendance fees. Inside you find a myriad of willing hosts. Vendors with and without worthy causes hawk for your attention and hard-earned dollar. There is food. Delectable food. Portion sizes that will make your brain actually explode. They serve salvation in a carnival carafe; a sweet potato that could do real damage if weaponized, stuffed with a pound of barbecue pulled pork and topped with a blob of guacamole that was extracted from a fresh batch with an ice cream scoop. I saw the ice cream scoop. Away from the paleo troughs you mingle amongst pseudo-celebrities, known the world over for their fitness (or Instagram feed) who are accosted every few feet for a selfie. Personally, I’m not the one.
The girls who call me Coach do phenomenally throughout. Under duress due to unforeseeable variables, a handful of moments don’t swing their way. When this happens, they remain calm and communicate through and through. This is everything. Moreover, they are satisfied with their efforts, which means so much considering it took them a year of toiling day in and day out to find themselves on the competition floor at Bayfront Park.
At Wodapalooza, only the Elite division athletes get paid should they win. It’s kind of a crap policy. Katrin was almost never in the athlete warm-up area. I never saw her once in the village of vendors. She came, attacked each WOD, and bounced with a bag of money. What a time to be alive.
The Monday after the final day of competition Courtney and I explore Miami Beach. She lays on a towel and reads a book she got for Christmas. I pace the shore. It’d been half my life since I’d been to the coast, and in those years many things took place that made it hard for my mind to remember how the water moves in and moves out. Its heartbeat a cold rush to the shins. Later on that night she tells me, “You looked like a boy who’d never seen the ocean.”