“Ten seconds!” the coach called, starting the timer on the wall. Five seconds. We were lined up outside, eagerly awaiting the command to “Go!” Three seconds. Two. One. Go! We took off on a one mile run, and Murph was underway.
I finished the run in about 7.5 minutes and headed into the gym to begin the 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 squats. I broke them into 20 rounds of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 squats because in the CrossFit world, I’m still a weakling and there’s absolutely no way on this earth I’d be able to do 100 pull-ups in a row. In fact, I can’t even do one pull-up. I’m still working on that, so I had to do ring rows.
By my third round and 30 push-ups later, my arms were already threatening divorce from the rest of my body, and I found myself lying on the floor in between push-ups gasping for air like a dying fish. And I wasn’t even half way to the finish! Oy!
So I thought about Murph, not the workout, but the guy the workout honors. CrossFit has different workouts, tough workouts, named after fallen military heroes to honor their sacrifice. Hero WODs, they’re called. On Memorial Day, CrossFit gyms, or boxes, around the world do the workout called Murph to honor Navy Lt. Michael Murphy who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005. The actual workout is supposed to be done wearing 20 to 40 pounds of body armor and all the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats done unbroken. And here I am doing my pitiful little ring rows, 5 at a time, and grunting to keep my knees off the floor during a push-up. With NO body armor…
Thinking about how tired I was just didn’t hold a candle to the sacrifice of Lt. Murphy, so I kept going, round after round, willing myself to just complete one more round. Finally I reached the 300th squat, and I headed outside to complete another one mile run, the final component of Hero WOD Murph.
My pace was definitely slower than on the first mile. Squats have a way of turning legs to wood, and I felt like I was moving through mud. Then, marathon flashback…I started cramping. This time is was the side of my belly, a super bad side stitch, instead of my legs. I had half a mile left to go, and my belly was cramping so tightly I could hardly breathe or hold my upright position. I’m sure my face was doing all kinds of contortions because fellow athletes passed me, calling out encouragement. My breath was coming out in short audible gasps. I was so ready to be done, but that last 400 meters seemed like an eternity!
But 50 minutes and 33 seconds after this marathon of CrossFit workouts started, I finished Murph for the second time in my CrossFit life, shaving 5 minutes off my previous time. And when my cramp eased up and I could breathe again, all was well with the world, and I decided that yeah, Murph wasn’t that bad! It just left me looking like this. Sunny curled up beside me to comfort me.
I did Murph on Monday, Memorial Day. Today is Friday (I know, this post is really overdue. Blame it on working 12 hour shifts!), and for the first time this week I can unhook my bra without crying. It’s nice to have arms that don’t protest with movement! But it’s got me thinking a lot, again, about why I do CrossFit? Why do I put myself through such tough workouts, endure days of muscle soreness, and go back willingly for more?
Stay tuned for answers to those questions, but doing Murph helps me remember that there are a lot of people doing a lot of things that are way tougher than I’ll ever do. And they do them over and over, every day. It’s good to think about that when I start to whine and complain about how tough life is.
Read more about Lt. Murphy and the workout that bears his name here.
Who are the heroes in your life?
What did you do on Memorial Day?