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My First Hero WOD

September 3, 2016
AUTHOR: Emilie
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My sophomore year of college, my rugby captain was super into Crossfit. She wasn’t in ROTC but she had already gone to OCS and was planning to commission into the Marines after graduation (she ultimately did). She was one of those people who was intimidatingly fit. That was my exposure to Crossfit: the incredibly fit rugby captain. The very tubby 200+ lb Emilie was not interested in Crossfit.

That Captain graduated and Crossfit fell off my radar. Then I lost all of my weight and got into better shape. Then I graduated college.

I moved to Baltimore and started working with Demi Leigh Fitness. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. By the time Casey graduated from Ranger school in November, I was seeing a difference in my body. Just look at these arms.

?? Rangers lead the way

A photo posted by Emilie Lima Burke (@emilielimaburke) on

I never liked working out, but I always did it because getting heavy again is one of my number one fears. I worked out not out of pleasure (never happened) or accomplishment (very rarely happened), but out of internally imposed obligation. Can I tell you a secret, though? It’s really easy to cop out of an internally imposed obligation. My list of excuses could impress you. While I had plenty of excuses, I still ended up in the gym more often than not. Combined with the fact that I am pretty cognizant of what I eat (we don’t even keep snacks in the house), I’m very happy to say that my weight has stayed consistent since graduating college.

I’ve never really like “gym culture,” though. You go to the gym; you lift heavy things; you go home. Then end? I’ve found it off-putting. There’s no community, and there’s no group accountability. I never really liked going to the gym when there were other people there because I was never comfortable in the gym. There’s something about that, though, that’s important to note. At the gym, you as a person should be comfortable. What you do while there, should push your outside of your comfort zone. This is a distinction that has defined my Crossfit experience: I am comfortable at my box (what Crossfit gyms are called) and every workout(called WODs, or Workouts of the Day in Crossfit) pushes me out of my comfort zone.

My First Hero WOD

This week’s workouts included my first ever Hero WOD. A Hero WOD is a Workout of the Day done in honor of, you guessed it, a Hero. This week’s was called Victoria. I signed up for my normal Tuesday 8 AM class, not knowing or thinking anything about it. The night before one of the coaches posted this in the member Facebook group. Frankly, I didn’t think that much about it.

Then I started doing my homework on Victoria Soto. According to the Daily Mail, when Soto heard gunshots, she locked her first graders in the closet. When the gunman came to the door, she told him her students were in the gym. He shot and killed her while her and six of her students before moving on. She gave her life to try to save theirs. She wasn’t their mom or in the military; she was their first grade teacher and she made the ultimate sacrifice to protect her students.

There are a lot of women at my gym and most of them have been sending their little ones back to school this week. I think of my Godson and my little cousins.

Tuesday’s workout was hard. Here was the scaled version that I did:
5 Rounds for Time

It was really really really hard. The workout had a 37 minute time cap and even though I scaled it, I didn’t finish the workout. My notes say I did “4 + 22“, which means I finished 4 rounds, plus the next 22 movements- 10 Thrusters and 12 Box Jumps. I wanted to give up so many times during this workout. I couldn’t do it.

I was working so hard. I was so tired. I was so light headed. My feet hurt. My hands hurt. The kettlebell swings make my wrists hurt. Twenty-seven of them is a lot. The last time I did box jumps, I missed 30 inches and I hurt my shins and now I was scared to do them quickly. Thrusters are really hard. It’s basically two movements in one. It’s still my first month of CF, no one expects me to do it.

These things are all true, but that doesn’t make them acceptable excuses. Twenty-seven year old Victoria Soto gave up her life on December 14, 2012 to save her classroom of first graders. Victoria, an avid Crossfitter, would never get the chance to do another Thruster or another box jump. It was my duty to her, to her memory, to keep going.

I pushed myself and did 37 minutes of a hard workout on Tuesday. I did not finish, but I know that I did my absolute best and I gave everything I had to that workout. At the end of it, I took a couple of minutes to just lay on the ground because I didn’t have the energy to do anything else. I gave everything I could to come as close to finished as possible.

Later on that day, one of the members of my box posted this in the same group.

This workout signified something. I didn’t reference the name of the Sandy Hook shooter anywhere, though I’ll probably never be able to forget it. His name doesn’t deserve a space in my memory or yours. Victoria’s name does. Her memory, those of the five other teachers, and twenty six- and seven-year-old children who died that day does. My workout was hard, but it’s my way of fighting to keep Victoria’s memory alive.

As I write this right now, I’m getting ready to head back to the box for a school supplies fundraiser. It’s open to the public in exchange for school supplies that will go to local Raeford students. If you’re a mom or dad, give your little one an extra hug before school today. If you’re a teacher, thanks for all you do. If you’re neither of those, appreciate what you do have. I’m sure it’s a lot.

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Emilie is a data engineer by day and lifestyle blogger by night. A Jersey girl at heart, she is currently living in her fifth home in three years, Savannah, GA with her college sweetheart. She’s learned the hard way that home is wherever the Army sends them. She enjoys eating food, cuddling with her dog, and binge watching HGTV.