Day 12: Graduation

Last night was our last Elements class and our first “real” WOD. I imagine that you expect me to now start talking about how miserable I was and how sore I am, but I have a surprise for you: I actually felt great (well, CrossFit Great, which is different than just feeling Normal Great), and today I am sore but it’s really not that bad. Or maybe I’m just used to it after the past 2 weeks of relative immobility.

After having dinner with my grandparents who are visiting for Easter, we made our way to the gym. Knowing that I would be subjected to a WOD harder than any of the other ones we had done, I was definitely nervous. When I showed up, Cheez (our trainer, whose real name I don’t know, though I’m assuming it isn’t Cheez) was laying face-down in a puddle of sweat, red-faced, grunting. As I quickly recited in my head the ABCs of first response – Airway, Breathing, Circulation… is the scene safe?… – Cheez raised himself up with his arms and I noticed he was doing knee-push-ups. Really? This workout had brought our trainer to his knees? Panic!

As soon as Cheez finished his workout and regained his ability to stand and speak, he assured us that was not what we would be doing. It was just his off-day, and he and the Viking who was working out next to him were just getting in a “quick shoulder workout.” No big deal.

I breathed a slight sigh of relief, but still waited nervously for what would be in store for us. After a warm-up 400m jog, some resistance-band hamstring stretches, lunges, and some push-ups (and learning how to do a kettlebell swing, during my first attempt of which I was almost knocked over backwards – and almost dropped the kettlebell on my head), we were introduced to Helen.

For those of you unfamiliar with CrossFit, there are a series of Benchmark Workouts that you repeat occasionally throughout your time as a CrossFitter so you can track your progress. It is also a way for CrossFitters from all different gyms to compare their performances, because even though they may do very different workouts on a day-to-day basis, at some point everyone does these Benchmark Workouts. Many of the Benchmarks are named after women, mostly after badass women from the early days of Crossfit. There are also “Hero” WODs, which I mentioned in my last post. As someone was kind enough to point out in the comments, a “Hero” WOD is named after (and done in tribute to) a fallen soldier. There is also a 3rd category of Benchmark Workouts that just have clever names but aren’t named after anyone specific.

So last night we did Helen. As “prescribed” (meaning if you don’t have to modify to make up for your utter lack of shoulder strength like I do), Helen is 3 rounds of running 400m, 21 kettlebell swings with a 55-pound kettlebell, and 12 pull-ups. I did it with a 20-pound kettlebell and 2.5 resistance bands on my pull-ups. Cheez told us he expected us to finish in 10-12 minutes. The boyfriend finished in 10:32. My time was 14:21.

We are now done with our Elements class, and starting on Saturday will be joining everyone else for more “real” WODs. I am excited and nervous about what is to come. I am also blown away by how much my outlook on fitness has changed in just the past 2 weeks. I have realized that while I considered myself to be in “relatively good” shape coming into this, in fact I am actually in pretty horrible shape. I can barely do a single regular push-up, I am nowhere close to being able to do a pull-up, and I’m left gasping after 3 box jumps. I also realize now that there have been few instances in my life where I have genuinely pushed my physical limits over and over again. It’s a unique feeling, one that I think not many people ever really experience, and I’m excited to get more of it.

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