By: Jillian Tymchy 

Published on Thu, 2014-02-20 13:27

“I don’t quit. I was never one to just say, ‘Oh well,’ without giving it my heart and soul.”

Photos courtesy of Daniel Sandoval

With less than two weeks left to sign up, there are more than 100,000 athletes already registered for this year’s Open. Odds of advancement to regionals and the Games are slim. So what compels people to compete?

Tiffany Perez can’t find a good reason not to.

“Yes, my chance at getting to regionals is zero. My chance at even getting a decent place on the Leaderboard is probably shot, but finishing dead last trumps not starting at all,” Perez said. “Even if I do come in dead last, I will try, I will push and I will give it my all within my body restrictions.”

Perez, 29, trains at CrossFit Love in Philadelphia, Pa. She is a Philadelphia police officer and roller derby player who is three months post-op from an ACL repair and sprained MCL, which she injured during an on-duty foot pursuit. Despite having limitations such as running, box jumps and heavy squats, she is registered for the Open.

“I signed up because I refuse to give myself an excuse not to do it,” Perez said. “There was no reason I found why I couldn’t.”

Perez credits CrossFit for saving her life.

She played collegiate volleyball, and after graduation, took up running on a treadmill to “stay in shape.” In the fall of 2012, her friend Lucy turned her on to CrossFit, but Perez was skeptical.

“(I was) post break-up, drinking and smoking myself into a little black hole,” she said.

Then, she learned there was an affiliate just blocks away and took it as a sign. Feeling unhealthy and sluggish, she realized she needed to make a change.

After starting CrossFit, Perez quit drinking and smoking and began to live a healthier lifestyle. Through her training, she noticed a sizable increase in endurance and stamina while on the job, specifically as a bike cop. As for her roller derby action, Perez used to tap out often during the endurance pace line to catch her breath. Now, she maintains pace line for the entire 30 to 45 minutes and once overheard an opponent describe hitting her to be “like hitting a brick wall.”

CrossFit has also helped her with post-op recovery. Perez’s muscle mass and strength in her legs were prominent prior to surgery, making it easier to regain range of motion and power. Prior to injury, Perez was able to hit 230 lb. on a back squat, but struggled with 95 lb. post-op. The surgeon and physical therapists have been impressed with her progress and Perez is now in the 90th percentile of healing. With only a few months of training, she is up to 180 lb. on her squat. Perez didn’t want to lose all she had gained since starting CrossFit, so she has put in the work to recover.

“One-legged everything and presses until you puke,” she laughed. “Hated every minute of it, but it gave me a reason to get out of the house.”

Just six months after starting CrossFit, Perez competed in the 2013 Open. She looked at it as an opportunity to challenge herself. She views the 2014 season the same way.

“My goal is to try as best as I can, but I need to be realistic about it,” she said. “There will be exercises I probably can’t do, or at least not be able to perform as fast as I’d like, but it’s not a reason to throw in the towel. I don’t quit. I was never one to just say, ‘Oh well,’ without giving it my heart and soul.”


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