Featured Athlete: Stephanie Dietrick

What got you into CrossFit, and how long have you been doing it?

I started CrossFit a couple of years ago when I started to realize that I couldn’t do some everyday things that I used to be able to do. Not being able to lift my suitcase into my car was not my finest moment.

What was your first workout?

I don’t remember what my first workout was, but I do remember the first time someone tried to teach me how to snatch. Pretty sure I had the impossible combination of t-rex arms and my elbows going out like chicken wings.

Any favorite movements? least favorite?

I LOVE deadlifts. LOVE them. Snatches and burpees are evil.

How has CFT impacted your life (any mental/physical changes?)

CFT has helped me do things I never thought I could do. The first time I was able to add actual plates to the bar for an overhead squat was awesome. I still doubt myself a lot, but 5 AM-ers are such a supportive group, that I keep surprising myself.  The friends I have made have been a big part of the positive impact that CFT has made for me. You know you are with the right people when they accept your need to be in the exact same place for every workout, even if it means you have to drag equipment all the way across they gym.

What has been your favorite moment at CFT, so far?

People wise, it was meeting Ken the first couple of times. I wasn’t sure what to make of him, he was super perky, and I am pretty sure he couldn’t figure out if I was cranky, happy, or pissed off when talking to me.

Movement wise, it was the first time I was able to add 10 pound plates to the bar for my overhead squat. I left the gym that day feeling like I had super powers.

Where are you from? What do you do in your time off?

I am from California, but have been in Arizona about 18 years. In my off time, I spend a lot of time hanging out at home with my dogs to recharge from the week or going to the movies.

What’s the most challenging thing you’ve ever done?

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and found out I needed to have surgery (turned out to be a few of them), chemo and radiation, I was a year into my doctoral program and had just signed up for an Ironman. My doctoral program was going really well, and signing up for an Ironman was an insane decision since I was overweight, asthmatic and up until that point had not been involved in sports.

My doctors each put on their serious “be realistic” faces and told me to take a leave of absence from my program and that there would be other races. I am a pretty realistic person, but I didn’t want to set aside the things that were keeping me focused, I needed a goal to make all that treatment seem worth it. So I decided to give my doctors some heartburn by telling them I was going to do the treatment they recommended, but I wasn’t changing my plans, and they needed to help me figure out how to make it work as we went along.

Chemo brain and surgery recovery made school pretty hard, but I was lucky to have an advisor who understood. I trained through treatment and surgeries, making friends with my treadmill and bike trainer (riding a bike through all the nausea was not my favorite). By the end of it, I had been through multiple surgeries, chemo, radiation, adjuvant therapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy for when I could not heal after a surgery. It was mentally and emotionally exhausting, but being able to focus on training kept me from living a pity party.

My last bit of treatment ended about two months before race day, and when my doc told me I was all clear to start, I didn’t have any expectation of finishing the race, but I was excited to at least be able to start. That first race was one of the best of my life. I didn’t think I would finish, so each time I made a cut off, it felt like victory. When I came up to the finishers shoot, my mom and coaches were there, and then I heard the announcer call out my name, and I had to convince myself it was real.

I did additional races after that, but that first race just made me feel like I could make it through anything.

What’s the most rewarding thing you’ve ever done?

Watching students who think they are not good with computers have ah-ha moments and then seeing them graduate is amazing.

Name one thing that scares you, and why.

Currently its mice (yuck). I came home from 5 AM class one morning to three cats having chased a mouse onto my screen door. Didn’t realize it until I heard it squeak above my head. Now I keep thinking I hear them in the house.