The spirit is willing, but…

You all know how that finishes, right? The spirit is willing…but the flesh is weak.

That statement has been particularly true for me in the past couple of weeks.

For one thing, I had my first (perhaps inevitable, but nonetheless unwelcome) Crossfit failure. I was visiting the second box I went to in Gainesville, FL, Crossfit GHFC.

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After a pretty comprehensive warmup, we started the day’s WOD set with Fran, one of the more well-known CF lady-named workouts (21-15-9 reps of thrusters, which are like a front squat and an overhead press in one move, and pullups). I was feeling pretty good. The techniques were coming back to me, the scaled weight was heavy but not too heavy, I was moving smoothly. And then without any warning, I couldn’t do any more. My body was literally like “okay, you’re done.” I had to stop in the middle of the set, and while I was able to do the second half of the WOD, Grace (30 clean and jerks, which I’d also done at Crossfit Empirical), I did it at a ridiculously low weight.

On the plus side, Crossfit GHFC was still really cool. The coach John was really supportive, the people there had a ton of enthusiasm, and oh yeah, did I mention the entire box was outside? It looked like this:

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To the right, just outside this picture, is a whole row of barbell racks for Olympic lifts, and there were some REALLY good lifters training on their own during the WOD I did. Watching them was pretty inspiring, or would have been if I’d had any energy left.

Next up in the flesh-over-spirit list: while I was in Gainesville, I stayed with a friend and her family, and one morning I helped her dad load up a bunch of branches and tree detritus to take to the dump. I was wearing sneakers, but I didn’t realize I should have been wearing higher socks and/or long pants. Before I knew it, my ankles and shins were covered with biting ants! I had to run my still-shod feet under running water to get them off, and by the time I’d done that they had taken some nice chomps out of my lower legs. Even with calamine lotion, those bites itched for days. Oops.

Ever since I visited my friend Ally in Orlando, who is an avid runner, I thought I’d try doing some running myself. I started out running for 30 seconds and walking for 4:30, repeated six times, three days a week. Then I moved up to a 1min/4min. A couple weeks past that, I tried 1:30/3:30, and around the same time the Crossfit boxes I went to started having me run as part of the warm-up, the WOD, or both. And then there were shin splints. (If you’ve never had shin splints, count yourself fortunate. They basically feel like your shins take the full weight of every running step you take, and they hurt more the longer you try to run.) I guess that’s what I get for trying to run while overweight. Spirit, flesh, etc.

Oh, and then there’s that during my two weeks in Gainesville I ate at McDonalds something like ten times, on top of a couple trips to Subway and several to Starbucks. In my defense, those places had wi-fi and the place I was staying had none, but even so. Excessive flesh over spirit (to say nothing of flesh over bank account).

But I’m going to end on a positive note. While I was in Greenville, SC, visiting my friend Tara (whom I know from Ice & Fire Con), I visited another Crossfit box, this one with the awesome name of Swamp Rabbit CrossFit.

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Apparently it’s named for the Swamp Rabbit Trail, a long walking and biking trail that goes through Greenville along the Reedy River, and which the box is built right next to. My pics of the inside didn’t turn out well enough to share here, but it’s one of the most spacious and best-appointed boxes I’ve ever been to. Something like 16,000 square feet, six showers, three separate WOD areas (one outside), a stretching and technique area, and enough equipment to accommodate a class of 25…well, it’s Crossfit, so I can’t say “without breaking a sweat,” but you get the picture. ;) The staff were really welcoming, even gave me a full tour before the class, and the WOD session started out with a QOD (question of the day) where everyone said their name and, that day, who their favorite teacher was in school. Kind of fun.

At Swamp Rabbit, not only did the warmup include a run, the WOD itself did as well. Seven two-minute rounds of 200m sprint, 7 deadlifts, and as many double-unders (jump rope with two passes in a jump) as possible, with one minute rest in between rounds. Now, I’ve got strong legs and my deadlift technique is solid, even after 18 months away. And while DUs are not as easy as they were, I can do a few of them still. It was the damn run that got to me. By the third round my shins hurt so much I could barely get through the run and deadlifts in two minutes, let alone do any DUs. I was exhausted. And the worst part was, the spirit was absolutely willing. I WANTED to keep going. I knew my technique was there. I just couldn’t take the pain of moving anymore.

But I wasn’t going to fall out of the WOD again. Not twice in a row. So I asked the coach if I could row the sprint instead of running it, to take the impact off my legs. He said sure, if I did 250m instead of 200. I said okay. And I did the last four rounds on the erg rather than the trail. It still hurt. It was still exhausting. And I still didn’t get many DUs in. But I didn’t let the complaints of my flesh drag my spirit down. And that felt great.