It wasn’t until January that the plan began to take shape.
Even then the plan required a focus check.
Mary Beth Prodromides of Grand Junction struggled with motivation, but she started working with a trainer. Injuries took their toll and were a major source of pain for the 61-year-old former CrossFit champion.
“I told (the coach) straight up that I didn’t know if I was going to do the Open,” Prodromides said of training for the first qualifier for the CrossFit Games.
Did she really want to go through the physical torture of going for her fifth CrossFit Games title?
“I was thinking should I do this, should I not, will I get hurt, is this a bad idea?”
Turns out, it was a good idea, because Prodromides won his fifth gold medal a few weeks ago at the CrossFit Games in Madison, Wisconsin.
Winning in 2018, she finished eighth in 2019 after dislocating her shoulder. Major shoulder surgery was required, and knee surgery to repair a meniscus tear.
The 2022 journey began in February at the CrossFit Open, where she placed 19th. That competition was almost done with video documentation of the workouts.
“It wasn’t great, but it was enough,” she said.
Which took him to the quarterfinals. Thanks to some unclear online instructions for one of the workouts, Prodromides dropped all the way to 22nd place.
But the officials took the top 30, and he rebounded with a strong fourth place in the semifinals in June.
Physically, she had come back from injury and was super fit with her powerful shoulders, abs, legs and super-toned arms.
But the stress of competition was not like other years for him.
She said, ‘There was so much stress after not competing for three years, I can’t even tell you how stressful it was.
The tension and fear of hurting the other shoulder nearly overwhelmed her.
Memories of previous CrossFit games helped motivate him. She thought about how much fun it was to compete, and she realized that going to the CrossFit Games was an honor and a huge accomplishment.
“That’s when my mindset changed, I was happy to be there, and if I won it would be icing on the cake.”
She spent a lot of time and physical therapy recovering from the injury. It took him more than a year to regain full range of motion.
Whether it’s pull-ups, deadlifts, rope climbing or many other exercises, the impact on the shoulders is intensified with CrossFit.
Prodromides always have powerful shoulders. No one can win five CrossFit Games without strong shoulders.
The CrossFit Games are the ultimate physical challenge for competitors. The unique aspect of the Games is that contestants never know which 10 workouts will be part of the competition, so they must prepare for anything and everything if they hope to win.
With thoughts of her previously injured shoulder still vivid in the back of her mind, Prodromides admitted she was a little timid at times, but her CrossFit coach, Daniel Condon, knew when to hold back and when to push.
“He was perfect for me because he knew when to pump me up and when to settle down. He knew my goals, which was to not get hurt and do my best. So when I started acting super-competitive, he told me Reminds me of those things.
But then Prodromides found himself in the lead and on the verge of another CrossFit title with just one last workout remaining.
He had to finish in the top two in that workout to secure the title.
That’s when Condon reminded her that she was close to victory and that it was time to be super-competitive again.
“In the last workout, he said, ‘Mary Beth, if you’re holding anything back, if you’re going to win it’s time to go.’ “
She placed second in the workout and won the CrossFit Games title in the 60-64 age group. She placed first in one of the workouts and second in the other four.
Wanting to succeed is also stressful.
“I went into games knowing if I was fit enough, if I was strong enough, so I went into it not wanting to embarrass myself. I had to go in there thinking I might not be the best and if I was okay with that. I was or I would be.”
With that fifth gold medal hanging on to all others, Prodromides is wondering what comes next.
“So I go again? I don’t know. I haven’t figured that out yet,” she said.
What happens next plays deep in his mind, though.
“I worked hard,” she said with a smile. “But 20 minutes after I win or if I lose, my emotions are off the charts. Then it’s back to, I’m Mary Beth and it’s time to go home and be with my family.
“I like to stay fit, so I’ll always work out and I’ll always do CrossFit, but whether I’ll always be competitive, I don’t know. I can’t say yes or no right now.”
Out of the blue, she smiled a big smile and said, “I think I want to jump out of a plane.”
Whether it’s traveling to the next CrossFit Games or skydiving or spending more time with family, Prodromides is still a little sore as she reminisces about her fifth championship.
A big part of his emotions coming into the games was about family.
On September 18, 2021, he lost his biggest fan, his father, Steve Prodromides, who died of complications from COVID at the age of 90.
Then his mother, Virginia, contracted Covid and it was four months before she began to recover. Then she had a stroke and is still struggling.
“It’s really sad and she misses my dad, so it’s even harder,” Prodromides said.
Even though he was blind, his father accompanied him to every tournament until his death.
“He couldn’t see me compete because he’s blind,” she said with an emotional smile. “I believe in heaven and I believe in God, and I think my dad finally got to see me compete this time.”
Since 2011, Prodromides has won five titles – 2011, 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2022 – and finished second twice.
Time away from games
Time is intense in the gym and training to prepare for a CrossFit competition. It’s really a 12-month ordeal with four to six hours of exercise a day. Does she really want to continue putting in so much time and effort? This question is bothering him now.
She remembers two fantastic summers in 2020 and 2021 when she wasn’t immersed in training or competition.
“The other two summers were so much fun because I did all these wonderful things with my grandkids, and this summer we missed it because of the CrossFit Games.”
He has 11 grandchildren, five of whom live in Grand Junction, all ranging in age from 3 months to 14 years.
“I’ve learned a lot over the past three years about why I do the things I do,” she said.
Before, it was the thrill of winning, being recognized as the best, the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishing the ultimate goal, but she says clearly that “this year was different.”
“I know I’m more than CrossFit, I love my grandchildren, I love my parents, my family, I don’t know how to explain it.”
If she walks away now, she’ll walk away as a five-time CrossFit Games champion.
If she returns for a shot at No. 6, she knows the sacrifices she’ll have to make.
Is she ready to return to the sport that has shaped a large part of her life for more than 12 years?
He doesn’t even have an answer for that.