Red Rush athlete Diane Urban has always been a world-class competitor. In college, she was a three-time Division II NCAA Champion in the discus throw, even making the ’84 Olympic trials. In 2013, she had dabbled in CrossFit and decided to enter the NorCal Master’s, the largest Master’s tournament in the country (outside the CrossFit Open). She placed fifth and fell in love with the sport. This year, she competed in the CrossFit Games Master’s (50-54) Division. If all that wasn’t incredible enough, she’s also the chief of police for Hayward, California. She took time out of her busy schedule to talk to us, and we are grateful.
Red Rush: How often do you train and what’s your regimen like?
Diane Urban: I train five days a week with two rest days; currently I rest on Tuesdays and Fridays. I chose these days as I usually have council meetings that go until 10 pm on Tuesday nights, and Friday night is “date night” with my “other half.” He is incredibly supportive, but I work to ensure we have quality time together. Training on Saturdays and Sundays is a huge sacrifice as I have to give up a great deal of invites and social events, but the weekends are the longest periods of time I can train without work-related interruptions: cell phone calls, emergencies, on-going situations related to police work.
RR: What’s your daily nutrition like?
DU: I use the Eat To Perform (ETP) regime. I initially went strict Paleo but wasn’t incorporating enough good carbs to sustain me through demanding CrossFit workouts.
Red Rush: Which CrossFit Open workout was the most challenging? Which the least?
15.5 the rowing and thruster workout. (27-21-15-9 thrusters and calorie row) It hurt the most and was the most difficult mentally to get through.
15.1 was not really the “least” challenging but definitely the one I didn’t worry about.
Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 9 minutes of:
10 deadlifts (55 lb.)
5 snatches (55 lb.)
1-rep-max clean and jerk
6-minute time cap
DU: Everything they had in the two-part workout was well within my wheelhouse, and since it was the first workout, I was super excited and ready to go! I also had my friend and three-time CrossFit Games competitor in my age group doing the workout with me. I knew we would be pushing one another to a great finish on that one!
RR: What areas/movements of CrossFit do you excel at?
DU: Anything heavy! Thrusters, clean & jerks, squatting, deadlifts, jerking, snatches, but I am pretty good at most of the movements. I like muscle-ups, toes-to-bar, rowing. I often struggle with double unders, and I am still learning to master handstand walking. It isn’t easy to learn “gymnast-y” moves in your 50’s! To qualify for the Games, you have to be able to do everything pretty well; the sport exposes your weaknesses very quickly.
RR: When during this year’s Open did you know that you were probably going to make it to the CrossFit Games?
I didn’t know during the Open. The top 200 scores in the world for Master’s athletes are given four additional workouts that must be both video’d and performed at a CrossFit affiliate. The Open only counts for one part of our score.
In other words, I finished 9th in the Open, so I went into the Master’s Qualifier with 9 points while the woman who finished 1st in the Open went into the Master’s Qualifier with 1 point. The Master’s Qualifier occurs about three to four weeks following the end of the Open, so we are working hard to prepare for our “master’s regional” called the “Masters Qualifier.” The four additional workouts are announced on a Thursday night and all four scores are due in by 5 pm on Monday night. Just like the Open, you have four days to complete. You are really competing in the dark; since unless you are training with another Games athlete, you have no idea how people are doing because no one posts their scores until Monday at 4 pm for the most part.
This is a real stressful and nail-biting time for the athletes. So it was about 10 pm on Monday night after the Master’s Qualifier workouts were due that I was fairly certain I had made it, although it often takes CrossFit Headquarters another 24 hours to validate scores so people keep popping up all around you on the Leaderboard. After that, CrossFit Headquarters requests a video of one of the four workouts (you don’t know which one in advance) of the Top 20 athletes…once they send you an email that says “congratulations your video has been accepted,” you hold your breath! Shortly thereafter comes the most exciting email ever that says you are qualified for the Reebok CrossFit Games! It is an awesome feeling!
RR: What were your goals/strategies—had you not had to withdraw—for the Games competition?
DU: My goal was simple–to truly enjoy myself and all the hard work and sacrifice I have put into this sport the past two years. I wanted to finish in the Top 10 and soak up the experience, being in the huge stadium and hearing the crowd was going to be crazy exciting and nerve-wracking. My strategy was to apply all the skills and strength my coach and I have put into my training and prove to myself that I am one of the top female athletes in the world in my age group in this sport!
RR: Are you going to compete again next year?
DU: I have been doing a great deal of soul-searching on this. My job is so demanding and I have so little time to myself. It has been a real collaboration with my soul-mate to determine if he and I can work to support another go at this….the answer is “yes,” but it has not been without great thoughtfulness and some reservation.
I am still very deeply impacted mentally by the death of my police sergeant. I desperately want to get back to the Games and devote my best performance to the life he gave in the performance of his duties. I have been working with CrossFit Headquarters and their law enforcement liaison and my dear friend Greg Amundson to create a Hero WOD in honor of Sergeant Scott Lunger who was murdered on a routine traffic stop the second day of the Games this year.
RR: How does the CrossFit training help you in your job as police chief?
In a hundred ways! My job is incredibly stressful and CrossFit provides a healthy outlet for keeping my stress reduced. Law enforcement is a job that requires a lifetime of fitness, but the daily duties of sitting in a car or at a desk do not lend themselves to a fit lifestyle.
Working long hours and not eating healthy can literally be the death of you. CrossFit provides a road map to a healthy lifestyle: 360 degrees, at work, at home, and forever. I believe in supporting my personnel in their quest for fitness mentally, spiritually, and physically. With the help of several of my personnel and our Human Resources Director and Greg Amundson from CrossFit HQ, I was able to open up our own Hayward Police Department CrossFit gym, “Badges and Barbells” late last fall.
This new gym is providing an amazing opportunity for my personnel, both sworn and professional staff (non-sworn) to be exposed to CrossFit and all the awesomeness that is this sport! I think it is essential to lead from the front and by being healthy and fit, I hope in some small way to inspire my police department to do the same!
RR: How does Red Rush help your performance?
DU: It’s pretty simple, Red Rush gives me that extra breath of air when I need it most, especially on those long cardio killer CrossFit workouts and runs. I feel just as fatigued but my breathing seems a little easier, and I can go a little longer without the struggle. I really appreciate and love the product. I think it is so important to maintain ethics when you are supported/sponsored by a product…you need to ensure you and the product are a good fit for one another, and Red Rush is a fabulous fit for me! I am excited to represent Red Rush in my 2016 quest for the CrossFit Games!
You can read more about Diane Urban in an upcoming issue of Living Well magazine.