An Anniversary

On April 18, 2016, one year ago today, I attended my first Couch-to-Crossfit class – and it began.  Three weeks later, on May 9, I walked into my first regular Crossfit class.  6am, Monday morning, Celebration Crossfit.  I didn’t know anybody.  I couldn’t do most of the movements.  I weighed about 315 pounds – I was enormous.  And I was scared to death.

Holy shit, was I scared to death.

That first day of regular class, I walked into a gym full of people that could actually do all of these things I simply could not physically do.  I was excited and ashamed and scared and nervous and embarrassed and a whole list of emotions all at once.  My shirts were too big because I couldn’t risk my belly hanging out.  I was wearing big thick running shoes.  I had no idea what I was doing – and I knew it.   And in some communities, when a newbie walks in like that they had better be ready to run the gauntlet.  The veterans make them earn it, every step of the way.  I was prepared to have to deal with being laughed at or getting the side-eye or feeling inadequate.  When you’re a fat guy trying to do something physical you have to approach it with a big dose of humility.

Very few pictures of me around that time – this was taken about two weeks prior to my first 6am class.  Probably around 315 – 320 here.

But that’s not what happened. Instead, I was welcomed in like I had been there forever.   I thought I would dislike the social aspect of Crossfit, that I would have to push through that discomfort indefinitely if I wanted the results.  I have come to like the social aspect the most – these people help me be a better me.  The 6am crew at Celebration Crossfit has become an integral support group.  They cheer me on when I succeed, and they encourage me when I am struggling. They help make it more fun.  They’ve taught me that I can push harder and go farther when I work with other people.  They (you, if you’re reading this) make it easier for me and help me on my path and never ask for anything other than that I keep working hard – and for that, I am eternally grateful.

The coaches, too, were a surprise for me.  I played basketball in high school, and our coaches were tough and aloof and gave the sense that they had a lot of things to be worrying about OTHER than me.  But regularly in class, and especially during the Open, I get the sense that Erik, JC, and Kaycie genuinely care about how I’m doing – care in a way that nobody else does except me.  They are invested in my success in all facets – as gym owners, yes, but also as human beings that personally want me to be a better me.  They are legitimately proud of the work I’ve done, in a way I could never have expected.

One of my favorite pictures from the Open is not the most technically sound or flattering shot.  It is a picture of me at the bottom of an overhead squat in 17.3 with JC sitting right in front of me, talking me through it.  He was there like that in every Open WOD – he and Erik cheered when I sped up to finish 17.1, and he was sitting right next to me during the row on 17.4.  Everybody else was encouraging and yelling – he was calmly talking me through the whole thing.  And Erik and Kaycie were the first two over to congratulate me after 17.4 – they were as happy as I was about my performance in that workout.  I work harder because I want to make them proud of me.  One year ago today I would have rolled my eyes if I had read that sentence from somebody else, and here I am writing it.  But it is true.  I didn’t expect to find a special thing, but I found it.

Coach. Coaching.

In the last year, I’ve accomplished more physically than I ever thought possible in this amount of time.  I can lift heavier weights, run longer distances – and run them faster – and generally move through the world in ways that were previously beyond me.  I have not missed a Monday since that one a year ago – a few times I’ve had to run because I was traveling, but I have not missed a Monday.  I have lost over 60 pounds out of the 100 that I plan to lose.  I look better than I have in maybe ever, and I feel like a million dollars.

Like one million damn dollars.

I freaking love deadlifts … and bacon

When I got the email from Erik about my membership renewal, I didn’t blink – I’d pay it at twice the cost (though they shouldn’t get any ideas).  I have a lot of goals still.  I have to get to work on that last 40 or so pounds.  And at next year’s open I’m going to have to be able to do pullups, double unders, and handstand pushups if my Rx scores are going to be meaningful.  I have drunk the Kool-aid on Crossfit, in a big way.

There have been many steps since that first one, 6am, Monday morning, just over one year ago. There will be many more, but I can say without reservation that that first one was the hardest one.  Maybe one of the hardest steps I’ve ever taken in my whole life.

In a Facebook post a few weeks ago Kaycie said that they were with me every step of the way.

So I guess I need to keep stepping.

See you guys at 6am.

Taken about 4 weeks ago. Like one million damn dollars.

An Anniversary

One year ago today I went for my first run.  I set the alarm for 5am, laced up my brand new pair of shoes, and hit the door.  And walked right into a light ice-fall – basically a misty rain with some frozen stuff in it.

But I went ahead and did my thing.  And I started a log, one that I’ve kept for every run since.  Here’s what I wrote after that first run:

19m/mile pace!

“First Run!” was all I could think to say, really.  In later notes, I talk about how I felt and what the struggles were – or I let the runner’s high get involved and write things like “Great run!”

After this one, though, there wasn’t much to say.  I mostly walked.  And I walked over to a parking lot near my house and ran around the building a couple of times … because I was embarrassed for anybody to actually see me.  Several runs went by before I was able to run within eyesight of people.  For that first half dozen runs, I ran in the service lane behind the shopping centers near my house.

Nobody uses those service lanes.

Especially at 5am.

If I’d wanted to use more space in that note, I would have said “That sucked!”  And probably “Holy crap, my shins hurt!” And maybe even “What the hell am I doing this for again?”  But I wanted to be positive, so I just wrote “First Run!”

For the record – after the second run, I wrote “Second Run!”

The ball started very slowly – in terms of frequency and volume AND speed.  Look at that entry again – I got a mile and a half done in 30 minutes.  In my last 5K I did 3.1 in 31.  At the time I’d run for 30 seconds and walk until I could breathe again.  The walking time was embarrassing.   But I went for run #2, and then run #3.  And eventually the frequency started improving.  And the volume.  And the speed.

In the last 365 days, I’ve gone running 181 times.  What started with a mile and a half on a rainy icy morning turned into a year in which I ran 600 miles.  600!  That number feels almost unbelievable now, but it is true.  I’ve run 5Ks & 10Ks, a Ragnar and a Half Marathon.  Zero to runner – that’s what it has been.

And it has been amazing.

I’ve been in a real funk lately – and then I’ve had my toe injury for the past week.  But today I ran 2.5 miles.  Tomorrow I’ll run my scheduled 4.  This year I’m going to run a marathon, and no telling what else.  And next year I’ll be as far away from today’s run as this run is from that very first one.

See you next year.