Yesterday, I completed my last CrossFit Open workout. My asthmatic nemesis was back; burpees. I knew before I even started this workout that it was going to be brutal. Stories of how it slayed people the last time The Open did this particular workout in 2014 immediately started to circulate. Knowing that I already have a hard enough time with thrusters (due to a muscle weakness, which is why I’m doing CF in the first place) and then add on the burpee factor I knew this one was going to be rough.
CrossFit Runner was out in Nevada doing military duty so I was thrilled when ShooterGirl offered to come early to be my judge and cheerleader. The Red Shirt (head coach) on Friday happened to be one of my favorites. She took one look at me, pointed at the WOD board and said, um, why are you here? She didn’t mean it in a derogatory way, she just knew that burpees triggered my asthma and was surprised that I would willingly subject myself through that. I looked at her and said, “I haven’t missed an Open workout yet, and I have ShooterGirl to keep and eye on me.” She smiled and laughed. I think at that moment she realized just how stubborn and determined I am.
After a quick warm up ShooterGirl walked me through the game plan; pace yourself. I laughed. That’s the only way I do anything involving long duration physical activity, but with burpees in particular I have to pace myself. You know, because breathing and staying alive is rather required. She reminded me that I am not required to hop back or hop forward in and out of my burpee stance; thereby making it a bit less explosive (and thereby saving my lungs.)
As the clock started and I began the scaled version with 21 45 lb thrusters. ShooterGirl kept me focused and helped me break them up. “KNEES OUT” she kept saying/cajoling/reminding/yelling at me. This was followed by 21 burpees. Next round.
As we went down the line; 21, 18, 15, 12, 9, 6, 3, ShooterGirl kept counting and kept me focused. At one point I heard her say, “You are a burpee machine.” Hey, I may not like them, they not like me, but when you tell me I have to do 84 &%%*$ burpees I am going to churn them out. Slow, yes, but they will all get done.
When I hit the round of 6 she looked me square in the face and said in a very calm authoritative voice, “No stopping until the end.” I dropped a very large F bomb in my head. It may have been out loud. At that point in time, I have no idea. I picked up the barbell and dug deep. See, the thing with trust is that you are absolutely positive that that person will never ever do anything that will put you in danger. Having known ShooterGirl over over a decade I trust her with my life (and my lungs apparently). I completed my last burpee in 24:16. Holy burnt biscuits and gravy that SUCKED.
As I lay there panting in a pool of my own sweat there were two thoughts that went through my mind The first thought was, “Wow that sucked well the only way you are going to get better is by doing it again.” My second thought was, “Yay I didn’t die.” See, that’s the thing when you live with asthma death is not a joke. It really can (and does) happen to people. True, I tend to red line my lungs a bit more than I should, but at the end of the day I surround myself with people who I trust with my life and that means more than anything else.
Next up was ShooterGirl and her Rabbit. There is a girl at the gym who ShooterGirl has been chasing. While I like to be chased, she likes to do the chasing. She has done this particular work out several times at full RX before and she is Wonder Woman so I had zero doubt that she was going to rock it. Then the most awful thing happened; her hip flexors seized up which rocketed muscle tension up her back. I watched it happen. I saw the pain cross her face. Rut-row Raggy.
Now, the thing I know about ShooterGirl is that her stubborn streak is just as wide as mine. Must be that German in both of us. She kept pushing. The pain was becoming almost unbearable for her. She went from doing 21 65 lb thrusters completely unbroken (meaning she didn’t put the barbell down) in 52 seconds to absolutely needing to stop every couple just to keep moving. I felt horrible for her. I also felt relieved that I went first because if I had witnessed this before I did mine it would have scared the bejesus out of me and I might not have done it. (Pretty sure my relief makes me a horrible person…)
She completed her last burpee in 18 minutes. The she collapsed on the floor in pain. I’m also fairly confident she was in internal pain too. She did not do nearly as well as she had in the past or that she wanted to do. I felt horrible for her. All I could do was offer to help stretch her out and massage the spot on her back.
That was it. That was the last moments of my Open; watching one of my best friends writhe in pain on the floor. All I could do was be grateful and thankful that I have awesome friends who have supported me. I was exceptionally thankful I only had 1 full blown asthma attack in the process (and my first in a very long time). Most importantly though, I realized that when you are on the very bottom the only place you can go is up. Up is good.
Until next year, Open, until next year.