Fifteen 200s. Must Be Friday.

I wear this bracelet every day

Here’s the thing: I’ve mostly made peace with being solidly in the middle of the pack. There was a time, when I started CrossFit bootcamp almost four years ago, when I finished dead last every day.

Every. Day.

It was those early experiences that inspired the mantra Never Cheat. Never Quit. because there was a girl in my bootcamp who was routinely neck-and-neck with me, then would miraculously shout “Time!” while I still had, like, two more rounds to do. And she cheated on her pushups, too! [harumph]

I decided that no matter how much my ego suffered, I would do every rep with full range of motion – even if it meant I was (really) slow – and I would complete every single rep in the workout. If there was a cut-off time and I hadn’t finished all the reps yet, I did them while everyone else stretched… or I finished them at home before my shower. [See: stubborn]

So yeah, now the middle of the pack  feels like a really OK place to be, even on days like today where, frankly, I was bringing up the rear of the middle. I had a great view of lots of backs (and CrossFit butts) running ahead of me – and the determined faces of the people running toward me ’cause they’d lapped me.

But my final time wasn’t too bad, I made a very substantial sweat angel on the floor, and I did a handstand at the end for fun. Always a good sign.

15 rounds:
200m run @ 80% effort
alternate each round:
5/leg lunges
5 Russian swings, 16kg
:30 plank hold (forearms)
My time: 21:08

Cashout Fun
1:00 handstand hold (against the wall, of course)
I’m working on moving my feet away from the wall in pursuit of my next accomplishment: a handstand without the wall. I suspect this one will be a long time coming, but I’ve got nothing but time.

I’ve gotten lots of quesitons about that badass bracelet… my sweet friend Mamie had the bracelet made for me when I turned 40 three years ago. One of my favorite gifts of all time. I’m not sure where she commissioned it, but I found two places online that might be able to do something similar: Michelle Verbeeck on Etsy and Calitrendz.

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  • Teresa Roberts says:

    Love this! Thanks for the blog. I am new to CrossFit(3 1/2 months) and I am always dead last! I am OK with it for now, because I do all my reps and do them as correct as I possibly can! 🙂 However, there are peeps that cheat and it pisses me off. I just have to remind myself that..they are only hurting themselves in cheating. Heck, I pay good money for the workout and I want good results. SO..last is OK and hopefully, one day I will be in the middle of the pack.There’s no shame in being last, if you have given 110%! Love the bracelet..where can I buy one!?

    • Mel says:

      I was thinking a lot about the “back of the pack” this morning. I think we tend to judge ourselves harshly for not being in the middle or front — but if you’re doing your best, that’s it. That’s your best — which is your “front of the pack.”

      My friend Mamie had the bracelet made for me when I turned 40 three years ago.

      Looks like there are some places online that do custom leather cuffs:

  • Marye says:

    Love your posts and love the bracelet!
    You are an inspiration.

  • Walker says:

    fifteen 200s!!!!

    I think I will quote Tasha on this workout “@80%!?! I’ll note the suggestion.”

    • Mel says:

      Walker! It was crazy. We all pretended it was 5 rounds of 3X200m, but at the back of my mind, I kept thinking, 15 rounds!!!

  • In all of the times I’ve been last (every time, so far) I have never thought about calling time 2 rounds early. I’ve considered giving up, asking for a DNF, and sitting in the shower fully clothed to cry several times. But I haven’t (yet). That would really grind my gears.

    I wish I could have gone today. The baby is having night terrors, so it was a long night for me. But I’m going tomorrow morning. I hope it is super fun (noburpeesnoburpeesnoburpees).

    • Mel says:

      It is impossible for me to imagine you giving up. Impossible.

      And I’ve cried before, during, and after plenty of workouts. You can cry, you just can’t be a baby 🙂

      Sorry to hear the wee one is sapping your energy. Have fun tomorrow! (noburpeesnoburpeesnoburpees)

  • emz says:

    Love the motto and the bracelet! (The WOD kinda scares me!)
    I actually have a motto bracelet myself: A rubber thing that says “Dig Deep,” that’s from the Leadville 100 mountain bike race (I was support crew for my BF). Leadville, CO* is an old mining town -so play on words -ha-ha- but I find that little phrase really inspiring when I need it.

    *and also the highest incorporated city in the US at 10,152′. Just breathing is a PR!

    • Mel says:

      The WOD was actually manageable — so glad they were 200s and not 400s!

      Thanks for sharing the Leadville factoids. So fun!

      And having ‘Dig Deep’ in front of one’s face during, say, pushups, is an awesome idea!

  • Manisha Haywood says:

    Love the bracelet! Where did u find it? And I love your blog!

  • RBL says:

    Hi! Long time reader (I’m a huge fan!), first time writer. Thanks for sharing all of your insights (and recipes!). At the CF gym I’m a member at, I’m always last. I’m the person that people look to to beat… I strive for middle of the pack. BUT will I never cheat. Never. I know that I’m doing things I’ve never done before. I accomplish more in a WOD than I do anywhere else. And I too have had WODs that made me want to cry – but when I finish, using the last breath I have to call “Time!”, I know that it was worth looking at the backs of the awesome people I workout with.

    • Mel says:

      RBL! Good for you! Thanks so much for sharing this story… and congratulations on your accomplishments in the box! Don’t you love that feeling of using your last little bit of O2 to shout “time”?!

  • Meghan E. says:

    Oh Mel… why do people cheat? I’m afraid that at my new box there might be some less-than-stellar form and not-so-much full range of motion, so my competitive nature is already throwing a temper tantrum. Thanks for this post because you’ve reminded me that it’s a competition with myself, and as long as I do FROM and good virtuosity then I’ve won. Boom.

    You rock.

    • Mel says:

      I don’t think people intentionally cheat. I think they’re worried about the clock, or they don’t realize they’re not doing a full range of motion. I’m not saying I haven’t been tempted to cut a rep or two, but then I remember that I don’t want to cheat myself. In the heat of a WOD, that can be hard to do for some people, I guess.

  • Mel says:

    I hear ya. Today was super-slow for me… this morning we had 4 rounds: 12 d/b front squats, 12 pullups, 400m run. I used 20 lb d/b’s, rowed 500m because my knees will yell at me for 3 days if I run 🙁 and finished around 16 minutes (about 10 of it taken up by rowing!) In the last, oh, 4 people probably out of 20 in our 6 AM class.

    The awesome thing? My friend Stewart came over and cheered me on in my last row, peering at the distance as the music thumped in the background.

    For some reason, this was a workout where I was cursing inwardly every step of the way after Round 1, but after I was done I had a huge smile on my face.

    (I also feel embarrassed when I am the last one to finish and everyone in class is watching me and applauds when I yell “Time!”)

    • Mel says:

      Oh, man! I really feel awkward when everyone is cheering me on at the end, too… but if I (you? we?) remember that their doing it with big hearts and sharing their spirit to keep us going, it helps. A little 😉

      Congrats on your WOD today!

  • Becky C. says:

    Mel, thank you so much for this post. I just started CrossFit last week. I’m 49+ years old, fairly out of shape, and working out with a bunch of young ‘uns. And I cheated in my first two WODs…full confession here! I really didn’t think of it as cheating, I just felt this tremendous need to keep up (somewhat) with the pack. Like I was a burden to everyone.

    Then I read this post.

    This week my focus is on me. I am so last, I don’t know if I’ll ever even be in the middle. But that’s ok. Yesterday, I got the urge to “cheat”, but remembered your post. Put the focus back on me, and worked hard to complete the round. Yes, I’m dead last, but the results I’m seeing both mentally and physically have made this humbling experience just a blip in the overall scope of things. Thank you!!

    • Mel says:

      Becky! I’m so glad you commented!

      You get a free pass for “cheating” at your first few WODs. I know that feeling of being behind and wondering if you’re “holding up the class.” Good for you for realizing that you are NOT holding up the class. Your workout belongs only to YOU, and you have the right to wring every last bit of effectivenes out of it. Which may mean being at the back of the pack for a while — but you will make progress. And ironically, you’ll improve faster by allowing yourself to go at your pace now. Do all the reps. Do them all with full of motion. And revel in all that you’re learning. Think about how exciting it is: your body is adapting all the time, learning new ways to do things and becoming stronger and more efficient.

      Keep us posted on how you’re doing. And have fun with it!

  • STaylor says:

    I love this. I am totally obsessed with your blog because sometimes I feel like you’re just speaking the words in my head!!

    I’m going into my 6th month at Crossfit. I have made huge strides since I started, but I am still generally the least strong, slowest, and last to finish which really. frustrates. me. I am uber competitive and I want so bad to be blowing these WODs out of the water! But I am only as strong and fast and agile as I am right now. I really have to focus on not letting my pride come before my progress, and just concentrate on getting stronger and faster than I was the day before. I know that eventually, steady progress will get me where I want to be. I really love your idea of focusing on doing every single rep correctly (instead of focusing on ego). I’m going to think about that in my next WOD rather than “Dammit that chick just lapped me!” I know cheating is never ever going to help me get stronger and faster, and this post just gives me even more motivation to keep going with gorgeous form, attention to technique, and giving it everything I have in every work out – because that is soooo much better than cheating!

    • Mel says:

      That is a kickass compliment — thanks for reading and for letting me know we’re speaking the same language!

      I totally applaud your commitment to “gorgeous form.” And that’s such a lovely way to think about it. Forget slow. Forget last. Focus on gorgeous. What’s better than that?!