That was far and away one of the toughest workouts I’ve participated in to date.
Which is totally fitting given the context. For the unfamiliar and uninitiated,
check out this link. The workout today was a tribute workout memorializing the 31 troops killed in Afghanistan on Aug 6 of this year. If you’re wondering about the 31, there were 30 humans and 1 service dog. He’s a hero too!

The workout as prescribed was:

AMRAP 31 Min (As Many Reps As Possible)
8 Thrusters (155/105)
6 Rope Climbs (15 ft. ascent)
11 Box Jumps (30/24)

Now to clarify a few points; 1) I was nowhere NEAR Rx on this one. 2) I scaled the Thrusters down to 75lbs; but that wasn’t really relevant; 3) I did the box jumps on a 24″ box 3) Our gym only has one rope. We had 5 teams I think, at that 9am session. As a gym we all agreed that the 15 towel pull ups per rope climb that were described as the Rx substitute for the rope climbs was excessive. We tinkered and experimented with the towel pull ups and as a group decided 6 towel pull ups to 1 rope climb was sufficient. So in the end the CrossFit Durham workout looked like this:

“31Heroes” — CFD
AMRAP 31 Min (As Many Reps As Possible)
8 Thrusters (155/105)
36 Towel Pull ups
11 Box Jumps (30/24).

I realized very quickly that I was incapable of any towel pull ups, so I opted for
standard pull ups, starting with a heavy green band. Pull ups are likely going to be my “Something Else Group” target exercise come October once I get through w/Double Unders.

The other key element to know about this workout: This is a Partner WOD – Partner #1 will perform the work listed above. Partner #2 will run 400m with a sandbag (45/25).  Once Partner #2 returns from the run, Partner #1 will grab the sandbag and begin their 400m, while Partner #2 continues work wherever #1 left off.

So I introduced myself to a guy named Jay and we agreed to work together. He was much closer to Rx than I was. We were actually lucky with regards to the limited number of participants, because it meant we could have separate barbells set up near our station to customize the workout more individually.

Jay agreed to start on the indoors portion of the workout and I was taking the first run. Two thoughts: 1) 40 lbs on my shoulders put me right back at my pre-exercise weight of 18 mos ago at 275! God I was a heavy bastard! 2) As I was trucking that extra 40lbs up and down that 400M I got to thinking about those Navy Seals and every service member who was out there somewhere in harms way hauling a hell of a lot more than 40 lbs.

At that point, that 40lbs didn’t feel so heavy and I was able to pick up my pace again. I’m not going to tell you I ran every step of the way, but I damn sure never let myself do less than a solid march. It was the least I could do.

In an odd twist of circumstances, I never picked up a barbell until 30:40. It
just came to be that with Jay and my paces/abilities, I was always doing pull ups
and box jumps while he was running. While I was running he was doing the thrusters and some of the pull ups. With the exception of our fifth and final set. I polished off the last round of pullups and knew with the time remaining, I could have very easily paced out the box jumps to carry me through to the 31st minute, but dammit, I wanted a turn on the barbell, and those SEALs sure didn’t quit. I wouldn’t either!

So after the box jumps I scrambled over and banged out 3 or 4 thrusters. On a personal level, I’m frustrated with my pull ups right now. I had to retreat to
a black band between the second and third sets and just felt weak doing them.
They’ll come, I know, but it’s bothersome.

On the other side of the coin, that was the first time doing box jumps with a 24″ box and they went well. The weren’t fast, but they were consistent and my form was solid all the way through. Every landing was solid and I stood every one up,
extending my hips. So that was cool.

Erin brought the kids by the gym early to watch us go for a while. That was kind of emotional because as I was running, jumping, struggling for half an hour on a gorgeous Saturday morning, it really became meaningful marching with that extra 40lbs on my back. As my kids cheered, “go Daddy!” I really became mindful of all of the service members who give so much every day.

I wasn’t just thinking about the 31 heroes associated with this workout. I was thinking of family who have served in harms way and come back whole. I thought of friends who still serve all around the globe separated from their families every day and all they sacrifice. I thought about comrades that I’ve served with, some who are now training the next generation at the Academy’s and all over. Too many of them I’ve simply lost touch with and don’t even know where they are now and how they’re doing. And I thought about the ones who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our nation.

With all of them in my thoughts and on my mind, it was nothing less than an absolute privilege to march, sweat, pull, jump and struggle in their honor for 31 minutes.