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My First “Murph” June 2, 2015

Posted by bettyjoan in Uncategorized.
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When I visited my cousin in Chicago recently, he gave me a hard time (in the most loving way possible, of course) for talking about CrossFit so much.  As much as I try to keep that sort of thing under control, I’ve started to realize that the reason for all of the CrossFit talk is that it constantly inserts itself into your life and puts things in perspective.  Prime example?  My first Memorial Day Murph.

I knew that CrossFit did “hero workouts,” but I hadn’t yet encountered one until a few weeks ago.  We were doing a WOD my coach called “interval Cindy.”  He took the regular Cindy workout – a 20-minute AMRAP (as many reps as possible) of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 squats – and broke it down into 5-minute intervals, after each of which we got one minute to rest.  I wound up getting through 14 rounds, and I really enjoyed the workout.  So, coach said that if I liked Cindy, I should come out for Murph on Memorial Day.  When I looked it up later, my jaw dropped: Murph consists of a one-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats, and then another one-mile run, all for time (meaning, as quickly as possible).  Holy cow!

Then, it occurred to me – coach wouldn’t have told me to come out for Murph if he didn’t think I could do it.  Right?  Sure, I would have to scale it – I don’t have a real pull-up yet – but could I do it?  The more I thought about it, the more I felt like I could do it, and that I really wanted to prove that to myself.

Learning about the workout wasn’t enough for me – I had to learn about Murph himself.  After all, the hero workouts are named after fallen soldiers and first responders, so what better way to motivate myself than to understand more about Lt. Murphy and his ultimate sacrifice?


Rather than trying to paraphrase, here’s the best information about Murph:


Clearly, Lt. Murphy’s actions during Operation Red Wings were more heroic than anything I will ever accomplish.  As I got ready to head to the box on Memorial Day, I knew that keeping Murph in mind was the only way to focus my energy, complete the tough workout, and honor all of those who gave their lives in service to this country.

After some stretching and strategizing (I decided to break up my Murph like interval Cindy – 20 rounds of 5/10/15), we were off – the first mile didn’t feel super fast, but when I got back up to the box, I saw that only 8:30-ish had gone by.  I started in on the ring rows, push-ups, and squats – and I had set up a little squat station (consisting of a wall ball atop a 45-pound plate), so my form wouldn’t suffer when I got tired.  The first 5 rounds flew by – there was so much activity, and the coaches were all cheering us on, so it was a chaotic but encouraging environment.  Once I got to rounds 10-15 or so, I started to really “feel the burn,” as they say.  The push-ups were starting to get very challenging (everyone said that would be the case), and I had a pesky crampy stitch thing in my side.  I kept thinking about Murph, certain that a lousy little side stitch wouldn’t have even registered for him.

When I finished round number 20, I grabbed my sunglasses and headed outside.  I tried to run, but my legs just wouldn’t cooperate.  So, I decided to walk quickly for a lap or two until my muscles loosened out from all of those squats.  My first half mile was pretty slow, but then I knew I was almost to the finish line, so I tried to go as fast as I could.

I knew that I had lost some time during the workout, so I had no idea what I was going to see on the clock when I got back upstairs.  When I yelled “time,” I got super excited – I had finished in 56:53!  Not only did I finish the Murph workout, but I did it in under an hour.  Yippee!

I am so proud of everyone who participated in the workout – it really brought an added sense of purpose to the Memorial Day weekend.  Maybe someday I’ll be able to complete 100 real pull-ups, and who knows?  Maybe I’ll eventually be able to do the workout while wearing a 20-pound vest, which is technically the full Rx.  The greatest part about CrossFit is that it makes anything seem possible, as long as you are willing to work hard and push yourself.

And in my mind?  That’s worth talking about.


Progress April 20, 2015

Posted by bettyjoan in Uncategorized.
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* movement forward or toward a place

* the process of improving or developing something over a period of time

Progress is one of those funny words – based on its definition(s), it is a completely positive concept.  But somehow, in this time and place in which attention spans are short and instant gratification is the goal, progress has been belittled.  Just think about it – if you asked someone how they were doing on a task, you’d be less than thrilled if they said “I’m making progress” (instead, you’d probably hope to hear that they were finished so you could move on to the next thing).

I’ve learned a lot about how to be proud of progress by doing CrossFit.  More importantly, I’ve started celebrating even the smallest steps in the right direction – progress doesn’t have to be monumental to be meaningful.  When I started going to the box, I couldn’t do a proper push-up, and the thought of lifting weights was enough to send me into a panic.  Now, after 2-3 months (of 3x weekly workouts), I am still (usually) the slowest/least talented athlete in the room, but I am better than the day before.  Or, as my husband told me when I got started, “CrossFit doesn’t get easier – it just starts to suck a little bit less.”  Ha!


So…what are you doing to be stronger than yesterday?

Cross(fit) my heart, hope (not) to die March 9, 2015

Posted by bettyjoan in Uncategorized.
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Over the years, I have tried a lot of different exercise methods and classes and programs and whatnot.  I always attempted to be open-minded, but the one genre I never warmed to was the boot camp/CrossFit style.  Even though my husband loved his experiences, I chalked that endorsement up to his military background – after all, having been in the Air Force, he was used to being yelled at and “motivated” to action in less than positive ways.

When we moved to Hill East at the end of 2014, we noticed that there was a CrossFit studio less than 3 blocks away from our house.  Since we had fallen very much out of shape, and since the convenience factor was high, I finally relented and signed us up.  You know what?  I am woman enough to admit when I am wrong…and I was definitely wrong about CrossFit.

CrossFit Inc. defines itself as “constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad modal and time domains.”  Whiiiiiich basically means that you do a little of everything!  The hour-long workouts are intense and can include everything from jump ropes to indoor rowing machines to barbells to resistance bands, and everything in between.  Oh, and speaking of the workouts, there is some CrossFit lingo to know – for example, “WOD” means “workout of the day,” which is only one component of the session (the highest-intensity component).  There’s also generally a warm-up, a skill development segment, strength work, and some stretching.  It’s a lot of work for one hour, but it’s varied and interesting and slightly different every time.  CrossFit facilities aren’t called gyms, they’re called “boxes” – and each box has its own personality.  Thankfully, I found a box that is small, encouraging, and fun!

The great thing about CrossFit – which is one of the major things I didn’t know – is that it is scalable.  I thought you had to be a super weightlifter, or be able to do 300 pushups without a break, to be able to handle CrossFit.  But, thankfully, that’s just not true.  The components of each workout have a prescribed (or Rx) level, and then there’s always an option for less than prescribed (or Rx2).  Can’t even do Rx2?  That’s okay, too – you just do what you can and try to push yourself to YOUR limits.  It’s competitive, but in the right way (for me, at least) – it encourages me to compete with myself.  It’s nice to be able to see improvements in your time/reps after you have practiced movements for a while.

Right now, we’re pretty routinely attending CrossFit 2-3 times a week, and hopefully soon we’ll be able to bump up to the full 4.  Regardless, it’s safe to say that this CrossFit convert will be WOD-ing for a long time to come.

Who else out there does CrossFit?  What do you like best about it?