“Here is the thing” about CrossFit
While I have ran most of my adult life, I have never trained for or entered a race. So when Brandon called and asked if I was interested in running a half marathon, I decided that fifty-two was a good age to start, but to tell you the truth I was already dreading the extra miles I thought were ahead of me.
Brandon, however, had another game plan. Not only was I going to run my first race, I was going to train for it using CrossFit. As we were speaking, he emailed the training schedule that would take me through the next four months until race day. As I glanced through it, I kept asking, “where are the long runs?” and “how am I going to run a 1/2 marathon if I am only running three times a week”? Anyone who knows Brandon has probably heard this. “Relax, ‘here’s the thing’ you don’t need them. We are going to turn you into an athlete who will be more than capable of running a few extra miles come race day. Promise me you’ll stick to the schedule and I promise you that you will not only ‘crush’ that race, you will also be in the best shape of your life.” While it all sounded great, the runner in me was just a bit skeptical.
Brandon let his friend Sarah Bowling, co-owner of CrossFit Delray Beach, know that I would be training with them for a few months. When I walked into the gym it was hot; the music was blaring and in the middle of all this contagious energy was this little person, (Liz) no bigger than a minute throwing up huge weights like they were made of egg cartons. I remember saying to myself “I want to be her.” Next I met Sherril DeBonis who smiled through three straight nights of box jumps, push-ups, box jumps, pull-ups, box jumps, tire drags and more box jumps. My whole body was screaming, but in a good way. Old neglected muscles were making a comeback. The following week I signed up for Sherril’s 10:00 am class and began working out with an awesome group of strong, fit and beautiful Crossfit women. When I mentioned to Sheril that I was also training for my first 1/2 marathon, she immediately offered to train with me since she was also getting ready for a race … her fourth Boston. Great, the psycho box jumper was also a marathoner. Strangely enough when we compared training schedules, they were the same: 4-5 days of cross-fit and three days of intervals and tempo runs.
In the first few weeks I complained to Brandon that my running was getting worse because I was so tired and sore from my Crossfit work outs. “Stick to the schedule,” he said, “you are training like an athlete now. Your body needs time to adjust. Remember Crossfit is the work out, running is just the supplement.” A few weeks later I called him to say I was doing 100 yard runs pushing sleds and pulling tires in between sets of pull-ups and burpees. A few weeks after that, I couldn’t wait to brag that I had just ran up and down a hill ten times with a 25 pound sand bag on my back. Oh yeah, I was hooked, and I was now running faster and easier. The runner inside tried to argue that faster and easier could also come with more mileage, but there was something more than just running going on here. You see, hear’s the thing, I liked the way my body was responding to Crossfit. I was leaner but not the emaciated kind of lean that comes with mileage. My arms and legs had definition that I hadn’t seen in over a decade. I looked better. I felt better. Am I in the best shape of my life? Maybe not yet, but let’s just say I don’t mind what I see in the mirror.
When I returned to St. Catharines (Canada), I continued my training at Crossfit Niagara owned by Mark Gleason who is known for his expertise in Olympic Weight Lifting. I continued to work on my squats, my lifts, my pull-ups, and although it is only a week before the race I have run no farther than eight miles in a single outing, but here’s the thing I am not the least bit worried. I have been training hard and I feel strong … confident even. Race day morning I am more excited than nervous as Brandon and I walk down to the start line. When my group takes off Brandon gives me a wave and tells me he will see me at the finish line. Obviously he is not worried either … and just like that I run my first half marathon. While the hills of Nashville would have destroyed the runner I was four months ago, they were crushed by the athlete who ran her first 1/2 marathon in 2:03:12. I might not be a professional athlete like Brandon was. I will never run four Boston marathon’s like Sherril; and no, I will never be Liz, but I am an athlete. I am a crossfit athlete.