“Serene”

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"Serene"

I arrived at the box around 9:45 am. I’ll be honest – I didn’t show up any earlier because I didn’t think I could emotionally handle it before the WOD.

You see – I’ve been slacking with CrossFit. I hadn’t been there since before I got my job in Texas. The last time I was at Hill Country CrossFit was with Scott. Even though while he was alive I went to the box from time to time by myself – it just hit me different yesterday. It was a “first” for me.

As I stood facing the white board I read the workout:

“Serene”

1000m Row

—- 4 Rounds —-

8 – Front Squats 185/125#
4 – Should to Overhead Press
15 Pull-Ups

———————–

43 Burpees
1 Mile Run

I’ve never done a workout this tough before. I’m also two months out from my last CrossFit class. I haven’t slept well. I haven’t been eating. I’m probably dehydrated. I can’t go but 5 minutes at a time without wanting to start crying. There are a bunch of people here to just watch.

These are all thoughts that went through my head and then this one:

Who cares. This one is for you buddy…

So with a deep breath I started warming up. Thankfully that warm-up (which by the way – I always feel like the warmup is a workout) took my mind and focused it on what I was doing and off of what this day was.

Jerry

Then we all gathered around and Jerry explained the meaning behind the workout. Never in my life I thought I would get emotional over a CrossFit workout…

1000m row – When Scott started having issues with his balance and was unable to do a lot of the WODs he would come to the box and row.

4 Rounds – Scott was crazy about his 4 children. So today the 4 rounds represent the 4Cs

8-4-15 – The day that Scott left us

43 Burpees – Scott’s age.

1 Mile Run – At the end when Scott was having trouble walking and therefore could no longer run he would always take about wanting to run again. So that day we were going to run for him.

Me - #BetterThanDying

Yep – that last one pushed me over the edge and I was standing there in tears. I had a flashback to him reading a couple books about how to learn to running again. How before the last prognosis that he would talk with me about how much he wanted to be able to run again even though he hated running.

Even though the workout was brutal – I don’t think Jerry could have made it more of a fitting tribute to our friend. I’m also so happy Jerry programed it – Scott loved all our CrossFit coaches but he would often tell me stories of how motivating Jerry is. He used to always make cracks at Jerry’s programming too and how much he loved to hate it. They couldn’t have picked a more perfect person to program it.

I talked with Danny that morning to figure out how to modify the workout because I couldn’t do the pull-ups so we decided on ring rows. I setup my bar at 75# and got in line for the rower.

I sat down at the rower and they yelled GO

Row

I started rowing with all that I had. I rarely row (mostly because I hate the rower) and know that usually my times are horrible. I had some serious determination to get that part over with. I had a flashback to a time in Houston where Scott and I were in the garage at the rental house where they were staying while he was getting treatment at M.D. Anderson. He had a rower that a box in Houston loaned him when they heard his story.

He told me that we were going to play a rowing game. Row to 100m and for every meter that you are beyond 100 you have to do that many burpees. 10 times. So yeah… total was 1000m. How ironic. I sucked at that game so much that Scott let me have an 11th turn and scratched out my worst score so I could win. That was just the kind of guy he was. I sometimes think he knew I needed the win for the confidence in myself. It was a silly little game but now that memory means more to me than anything.

I rowed the 1000m in 4:24 or something like that. Fastest I’ve ever got to 1000m in my life. I headed inside the box to start the 4 rounds.

I approached the bar and started the first round. I don’t know about others but for me, each of those rounds represented his 4 kids to me. So I told myself that each round I was going to complete for that kid. I got through C1’s round pretty quick. Then I started in on C2’s round. This is about the time that my body decided that we were done but I pushed through and pushed hard. C2 sometimes can had a bit of a “fiery attitude” and it was only appropriate that I approached the bar during that round with some anger.

As I was going into round 3, for C3, I was struggling. I dropped the weight. I was shaking. I could barely open my eyes. I had several people around (several who were also doing the WoD) cheering me on to keep going.

Then I heard it.

A small voice was saying, “Go John”. I looked over and C3 had decided to sit down against the wall next to me and cheer me on. She is really a lot like her daddy. Hearing her and seeing her I told myself that I had to finish this round and I did.

Then as round 4 began I saw C4 sitting there next to his sister. Hell or high-water I was going to finish this last round for him. I dug down deep and found strength I didn’t know I had and pushed through that last round.

Now for the burpees

I’m pretty sure I was somewhere on the verge of passing out (literally) as I began the burpees. I managed to get out 3 and then collapsed on the floor. I’m pretty sure Ira was the one who told me I could do this and to move in front of the fan. A few more and again I collapse on the ground.

I’m emotional. I can’t breathe. I’m in pain. I refused to give up though.
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Laura said, I’ll do them with you. Then Madison said she would to. They got me through the next 10.

Then Janina came over and started coaching me. Helping me slow down. To modify. To do the thinking for me that I couldn’t do.

Me, Madison and Carly

At one point I look over and C3 had got down and was doing the burpees with me as well. I knew right then that I had to finish. Just seeing her down there with me gave me strength I didn’t know I had.

I’m sure I’m forgetting others that were standing around and cheering for me (I’m telling you guys – I’m pretty sure I was very close to passing out. Even when I opened my eyes I had tunnel vision).

Folks – that right there – that’s CrossFit. Media will show you the elite of the elite or see how much bad press they can give the sport but they don’t show that. The community. The fact that it’s about more than just you finishing but cheering on your fellow athlete to finish as well.

I finally finished the 43 burpees. I stood up, got a water and began my 1 mile run or in my case walk. I left the box with a group of people to walk with me (I’m not sure if it was for support or because they thought I’d pass out before getting back… lol)

At about 3/4’s of a mile – I began to throw up. It was all water because I hadn’t ate that day (or actually in the last 12 hours) but I threw up. A LOT of water. As I was puking I thought – well, this is fitting… first CrossFit workout I’ve ever thrown up on of course was going to be Scott’s. He would have laughed so hard at me and loved every minute.

I kept going and rounded the corner to get back to the box. I was last to finish and almost everyone had gathered outside to cheer me in. Also fitting I’d be last to finish – just like every other WoD Scott and I have done together.

Group Photo

Finishing this workout just didn’t give me the same feeling as other WODs. I didn’t feel like I accomplished something for myself – I felt like I accomplished something for someone else. I honored my friend who loved CrossFit and always wanted me to and believed that I could become a great CrossFit athlete.

The worst part of the whole morning? Going to my friend’s car to get some stuff for the memorial and she handed me the 8×10 picture that was going to sit on the stage. I looked at his picture and it was like a ton of bricks hit me. I couldn’t call Scott and tell him all about that WoD. He couldn’t tell me how proud he was of me or how I needed to work on my rowing form or how he knows that I could do that WOD again and do it faster the second time. He isn’t here anymore. It all became real to me again and I went to my car and weeped harder than I have in days…

***Special thanks to Jennifer McKinney and Jessica Farrell for the pictures

  • Thank you for sharing, John. It is nice to hear about this special event through your eyes, since we weren’t there. This makes everything more real, which is good and bad all at the same time. Proud of you.