Almost a year ago a new guy came walking into Rocky Point CrossFit. At the constant urging of one of his co-workers he finally decided to give CrossFit a try.
Before I continue, credit must be given where credit is due.
At his heaviest, Johnathan was weighing in at 365 pounds! As he told me, when he was growing up if any of his siblings had anything left on their dinner plate Johnathan finished it for them.
A couple of years ago, the same co-worker that directed Jonathan to CrossFit would gently urge Jonathan to give the gym a try. After a while, Jonathan took it upon himself to start working out. Like everyone, it started slow. But when the pounds started to drop and the body started to change and the energy levels began to increase Jonathan pushed himself to discover what he was capable of. It wasn’t long before the old gym routine grew tedious and Jonathan began seeking out the next challenge. This CrossFit thing seemed to fit the bill
Last November I competed in my second World’s Toughest Mudder. This time, the 24 hour race was in the desert outside of Las Vegas. To get some idea of what it was like, take a look at the 2014 documentary below.
When I got back, Jonathan began asking me questions about what it was like, what kept me going, what did I eat during the race (At one point it was three slices of pie wrapped together in chocolate icing), did I sleep at all, what kind of socks did I wear, how thick was my wetsuit. It was apparent, Jonathan was thinking about doing this stupid race.
For the last 10 months, the coaches and I have truly enjoyed seeing Jonathan’s progress in the gym. From gasping during the first few months to turning into a Clydesdale. Jonathan might not be the fastest, he might not lift the heaviest, and he might not have all the movements RXed, but he’s got his head in the right place and a heart that won’t quit. Every session is an opportunity to push himself to a place he’s never been before, realize it’s not as scary as it looked before then push a little harder next time.
On the eve of Halloween, Jonathan and I suited up in our gear and headed up to Buntzen Lake at around midnight. The rain was steadily falling, visibility was poor, the air was downright chilly. Perfect conditions for a night-ops training run. The World’s Toughest Mudder during the day is not that bad. Certainly it’s tough (as the name implies), but it’s not the worst way to spend the day. As night falls, and the temperature plummets, and the fatigue starts to set in to your muscles and joints, and you think about your really comfy bed, your mind starts to fatigue as well. The darkness takes it’s toll. In years past nearly 1/3 of the field drops out of the World’s Toughest Mudder at night. Jonathan needed to experience the dark.
The park is closed at this time of day, so we parked at the gates and ran into the park and straight for the beach. Without hesitation we marched into the lake and up to our necks in the frigid water. I was delighted that wetsuit I had used in New Jersey and Las Vegas hadn’t sprung any leaks. Jonathan was watertight and sporting a new generation headlamp. I was quite content with my Energizer headlamp, but I could turn it off as Jonathan lit up most of Eagle Mountain with his. Jonathan turned towards shore and my heart skipped a beat as the light cast over a good size deer. It had followed us to the edge of the water and was gazing out at us as though we were the most idiotic humans he’d ever encountered. We probably were.
After a good 15 minutes in the water, we came to shore at the dog park and struck out to the north end of the lake. At the north beach we jumped back into the lake. At some point during the World’s Toughest Mudder, a competitor has to piss in their wetsuit. In New Jersey I didn’t. I was too modest. I would hold it until I came to a portable johnny-on-the-spot, then wrestle out of my wetsuit in the freezing cold to have a tinkle. By Las Vegas I went primal. The first few whizzes were while I was in the lake obstacles. Later I would time it so I would expel urine just before the water obstacle. By hour 22 I was standing in the middle of the track with a goofy look on my face. My partner last year, Alex, had it down pat and could have a piss while he was running. As we got up to our necks at the North Beach I asked Jonathan if he’d pissed in his wetsuit yet and if he hadn’t, now would be a good time to give it a go. I don’t know if he did and I don’t know if he’ll tell you, but I can confirm my wetsuit got very warm before I opened up the neck and let in a flood of 4 degree weather.
One of the things I’ve wondered and asked of anyone who has done these tough challenges is “Why in the world are you doing this?”
I still don’t know. But I think it’s the curiosity to learn what I am capable of. Better to have tried and failed, than play it safe and always wondered “What if?” I asked Jonathan the same question. He didn’t know either. But as we continued on our journey I gleaned from our conversation that Jonathan doesn’t want to listen to the voice in his head, in all our heads for that matter, that say:
“It’s too hard.”
“I don’t have the time.”
“It’s too dangerous.”
“I don’t want to risk my health.”
Johnathan began defying that little voice when he decided to change his life for the better. And it’s led to dramatic physical, mental and emotional changes. Who knows where this is going to lead Johnathan?
By 2:00AM we had returned to the van. The gear had passed the test and Johnathan got a taste of what was in store for him. I can tell you from experience that in the weeks leading up to the race your mind is occupied with: Am I ready? What is my strategy? Do I have the right equipment? And the big one…..How far can I go? I made it 30 miles in New Jersey before I quit. I made it 40 miles in Las Vegas without quitting. Knowing Johnathan, I think he’s going to break 50 miles.
On November 14th & 15th Johnny is going to compete in the 5th Annual World’s Toughest Mudder in Las Vegas. Wish him well if you see him this week! I’ll do my best to keep you posted on his progress throughout the race.