Read my shoe and apparel reviews (http://therxreview.com/author/carrie-anton/) and you’ll see that I tend to like to poke a little (OK, a lot of) fun at myself. Before I transformed into the CrossFit awesome that I am (there really needs to be a sarcastic emoticon!), I had to take my first CF class.
I wrote the following personal essay shortly after that class, and I think it’s a testament to everyone who’s thinking about giving CF a shot or has been doing WODs; we all have to start somewhere and we all have room to improve.
My first class (and really all of those that followed) taught me that when you’re in it, don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh at yourself, your mistakes, and your major cringe moments, and I promise you’ll grow by leaps and bounds–if not physically, then mentally. (Caveat: Running may still feel like it sucks…because it does). Enjoy.
Last Laugh: Carrie’s Personal Essay of Embarrassment and Motivation
It’s only a 1.5 mile run, but I’m dragging. The CrossFit MadTown building where this Saturday torture…er, session started—and where my finish line lies—is less than a half-mile away. But as defunct as I feel, it could be just a mirage.
I want to slow down to a walk…again, but I also want to be done with the “Go Russo (#41)! WOD, a workout named for Greg Russo, a University of Wisconsin football player who coaches and trains at our box. It took me 24 minutes and some seconds to get through the first part of 41 push-ups, 41 pull-ups (banded), 41 burpees, 41 hollow rocks, 41 squat jumps with a bar, 41 box jumps, and 41 sit ups. To wrap it all up is this horrifically awful run.
In the distance, I see a fellow classmate up ahead–one of the fast ones who added a weighted vest just for “fun.” And he’s running—not still, but again. “Seriously,” I think with petty annoyance. As I was about to wait for him to pass in the opposite direction so that I could take another much-needed walking break, he crosses the street and starts running toward me.
That’s when it hits me. He isn’t looking to burn more calories or looking to train harder; he is simply looking for me! Since more than 40 minutes of WOD time had now passed and my coach needed to move onto the next class, it was time to send out the Search and Rescue Unit.
While you couldn’t tell because my face was already an exercise-induced beet red, embarrassment washed over me as he moved in to ask, “What’s wrong, Carrie?” I wanted to punch him in the face and yell, “OK, I suck at running! I get it! Leave me alone!” But since I knew he meant no harm, I mustered up what little oxygen I could to politely spurt out, “Nothing. Just…slow…runner.”
I’d like to say that this is the first time I’ve been ridiculed at the hands of my exercise inabilities, but this truly is par for the course. As a kid, my parents let me come with hobbies and sports and go as I pleased. I’m glad that they weren’t the crazy sports parents you hear about, but sometimes I wish they would’ve forced me to stick with at least one thing for longer than a season.
And why did I bail so often? I’d like to think that it was because I was some sort of prodigy that got bored too easily. In reality, I just expected a lot from myself—a stress that came with its fair share of stomach issues including an ulcer at the age of 10. Looking back, I wish I had I just stuck with something—anything. I wouldn’t have felt like I was letting down the team–and in retrospect, myself.
It wasn’t until three years into competing on my high school varsity dance team—putting myself on display for large audiences at a time—that I completely stopped caring that I wasn’t the best.
You’d think it would be just the reverse with all the potential for tripping over my own feet, running into other dancers as I was out of formation, or completely drawing a blank on the steps (and yes, those all happened). But there’s something about the potential of making a complete ass of myself that caused me to want to work harder.
I took this lesson into my adult years of tennis lessons, spin classes, yoga, and rowing crew. Am I still doing any of these consistently? No. The difference now is that my reasons for moving on having nothing to do with my inabilities and everything to do with finding something that challenges me to do my best. Enter CrossFit.
As I run with “Search-and-Rescue” by my side, I still can’t help but hope, wish, and pray for the sidewalk to swallow me up whole. He runs next to me for the last 1/2 mile of the run, encouraging me when needed and staying silent when needing that. When we get closer to the parking lot, he tells me to finish strong and gives me pointers that help me help myself run a tad faster.
I finish Go Russo! in 43:10—double that of the likes of “Search-and Rescue.” It’s not a great time by any definition, but having that time means I finished—a challenge in and of itself. The embarrassment I felt during the run won’t have me running on to something new, but instead is just another reminder of “Hey, let’s not do it that way again.”
If I could hit the “reset” button and do this morning all over again, I think I would’ve tried to run longer and walk less to avoid the rescue mission completely. Still, at least I didn’t say that if I could do this morning over, I would’ve stayed in bed.