On the 31 December 2012 I had a cool day of training. Upon rising at 4:30am I started what would be just under 8 hours of running and cycling, with a bit of chit chat and the application of sunscreen where possible. Yes. That was a mighty fine day. And, it seems to me, that it was a rare beast in the context of the year that followed. The terms of endurance cycling it was the last of summer’s wine for me leading up to the Graperide. I was tired and needed something new. I was also sick at the startline. I’d realise that 70kms later. A kick in the nuts seemed to be the order of the day. Several more would follow.
Still here though.
This year I decided to start as I mean to carry on. The Water Tower has been my playground on the 1st of the month over the last few months - and this month it is also a new year. So why not. Previously I had flipped a medium sized tractor tyre to the summit. This month something different…
- Run from home to the base of the Paraparaumu water tower. (2km run).
- Run to the summit. (100 meters of vertical climbing).
- Then 100 pushups, 100 burpees, and 100 sit ups.
- Then run home. (2km run).
If you have to stop for a rest, then your 'rest' is running to the base of the hill, and then back up. Strict reps, and no breaks unless you want a run.
A new year then. 2014. And it did’nt take long to get motivated about the journey ahead. Days like this are rare. They should be cherished. I setoff and started to think about the day, the training, the finish, and even about the thoughts that would occur after this workout. No. Only one thought followed, “Think about the next 10 seconds of your life and no more”. At this stage I was at the base of the hill, my t-shirt was removed, and chewing gum spat out. I expected this workout to be all about running, with a host of hill repeats acting as a temporary ‘break’ from the workout. It was so much different.
The first run went as expected, the run to the top took my heart rate through the roof, the legs were introduced to their new normal, and focusing on quality breathing became a nessitity. The top then. My plan was to use the runs as a break from the sets, and this paradigm shifted upon the realisation that I could reach a tipping point whereby the hills smashed any quality training out of me. In hindsight this sounds logical, but at the time it was the beginning of an insight. An insight into a new world.
The pushups went well. 40 in the first set, and these were strict, with elbows past the ribs. I ran down and felt pleased with the start, as a set of 10 would have been a mental blow. And focused on a moderate pace that would allow recovery. I passed a person out walking and wished them the best for 2014. And then the second ascent began. Mapped out. 35 more. Then the second run up however had me realising that the feeling I could’nt ignore for much longer was my shoulders screaming at me. 25 and then done. Done with quite a bit of concentration, as fatigue was close behind. Then the burpees. Slow. But. Sure.
Alex was getting a tad bored by now. He had come along to watch, and simply lay down to watch. “No stopping”, I barked. “Tell me off if I look like i’ll stop”. And he did. New Years day may have been a little unsettling for those trying to sleep off their previous evening’s overindudging. He isn’t subtle when given the green light to shout at his Dad. The burpees were completed with a 100th clap above my head. Done. Situps awaited.
Crossfit situps have your hands together, with straight arms touching the ground behind you when you lie back, and then touching the ground beyond your feet when you sit back up. Feet are together with knee bent. No stopping. That would be my new normal. 10. 20. 50. And then 62. “MERHHH” - the involuntary sound you make just before throwing up – now adjoining every rep in this final set. 70. 80. And finally I returned to that point I enjoy more than almost all others. Knowing that it did’nt matter what it felt like. Knowing it would’nt change. Knowing that stopping was pointless. And some of me realised that it was’nt going to feel any different from this point onwards. For anything. All of me knew it. I had warmed up. I had trained. I had endured. Never suffering. This is where I wanted to be. And it would now feel like this no matter how long the workout proceeded. ‘The slipstream’ some call it. It could have been 1,000 reps and I would have carried on. 8 more it was today though. Just numbers. Collasping back one last time (for now) and then a jog home.
Jogging became running as I realised that I could crack 70 minutes. The last sections of the run had me going all out. I collasped in a heap at the finish. Just breathing for several minutes. And knowing now, that limits are not boundries – they are the points at which nothing feels any worse. They are signals in our lives. The true startlines. The moments where we either stop and catch our breath, so the shoreline of comfort remains within sight. Or they are the moments where we fly. And we get to choose.
That realisation stays with me.
There would be more days like this one. Two weeks later I would do ‘Easy Peasy’. That WOD would leave me partitioning my 421 meter walk home – I’ll talk about that some other time. It was quite some morning. Find the little moments. Embrace them. Live. Breath. Smile. And occasionally have a battle with like minded souls. Climb upon each others shoulders, and lift each other up to higher than you ever imagined. And climb upwards. Or die.
We have those moments everyday where we are tempted to rest, when we know that carrying on is the right thing to do. We also have 100 moments everyday that remind us that life is worth living. Big and small alike, these moments touch our soul. We need only open our eyes and see them. They are everywhere. Tomorrow’s checklist: say something cheeky, smile to a stranger, and say “Thank you” when someone helps you. You might be surprised what happens. You might even feel alive…
A look to new worlds.
Comforts shoreline out of sight.
Time for breathing out.