Penalty = PR
In the sport of CrossFit, PR's are something to strive for regularly with vim, vigor and a sharpened state of wisdom behind it. Don't be an idiot. Don't be "that guy".
Your humility should be honed with your hunger. Don't throw massive weights up if you should not for health/safety reasons.
Respect your safety zone? Sure...
Shatter your comfort zone.
One is there to protect you (safety zone).
One is there because you're accustomed to the comfort it brings.
Today marks approximately one year where I decided (not where I acted, but where the decision fired in my mind to commit) to join Guerrilla Fitness in Montclair, NJ.
Today marks approximately one year where I grabbed the lizard brain by the throat and stared it down enough to click a link to learn more about something that might break my comfort zone.
One year ago, I could not run 5 blocks.
(Notice that I didn't add "without getting tired" or "without slowing down" or any performance based variety offered within running.)
One year ago, I could not run 5 blocks.
I bought a Nike Dry-Fit shirt in neon yellow with ventilated panels on the back (to cool me, obviously), and planned on running for miles and miles by the end of August in order to prepare for the GORUCK Challenge that I signed up for on 9/11/12.
(Fast forward to the 1:16 mark and you'll see my broken body competing for it's life.)
I bought a neon yellow running shirt to run.
Run in general.
I had never run a mile.
I had never run 2 miles.
I had never run the 26+ miles that the GORUCK Challenge would require of me in three months time.
Fast forward a month or two into my tenure with Guerrilla: my "knee" would fire it's pain receptors on all cylinders anytime I'd jog lightly more than 400 meters.
(Keep your mouth shut. Keep grinding. Stop being weak. Stop being the worst in the class. Don't let them know you're nothing...)
800 meters for a workout? I'd be limping home, let alone walking after 600m or so.
Run 1 mile = "Hey Coach, how can I scale this down (so I'm not afraid of the pain that will come soon after, let alone the shame..)"
I never verbalized the words in the parenthesis to my coaches, but they echoed like a stadium public announcer in the Super Bowl as far as my personal space mentally was concerned.
Funny thing is that very few people ever spoke of running in class.
Few coaches would speak to technique.
I felt even more isolated in my pain, anxiety, and trepidation of pounding the pavement. The lizard brain was now perched on my shoulder with a megaphone reminding me of every failure, every weakness that my underweight body carried with it.
I wanted to beat it.
I wanted to fly closer to the sun.
I wanted to run.
I wanted to break the decades of mediocrity that were allowed to course their way through my veins.
I wanted to kick the teeth in of that voice telling me I can't.
Being the digital swiss-army knife that I am, I did my research and learned that it was an I.T. Band issue I was facing and feeling.
One of the tips for beating it? Get stronger. Squat. Lift. Clean.
Build those muscles up to support and soundly stimulate the area where the pain and tendons and weakness exists.
I no longer focused on running.
I focused on the mindset and mechanics of support the machine parts within me that support the human body to run.
I squatted with all my might.
I learned to power clean.
I learned what it meant to "Get Strong" without standing in front of a posing mirror like dudes do in the gym.
I learned about mind, body, and soul to build and grow and balance from within.
I stood up, for myself.
I got bruised and battered, and stood up, for myself.
I stopped looking at anyone else in class.
I stopped caring about last place.
I stopped seeing the letters "PR" as a gym oriented goal.
I started fighting for my self when I stopped being a tourist in my own life.
Today I ran a 5K as a "penalty" during a challenge we faced in friendly competition.
Today I ran a 5K, no problem, with the wind in my hair, air in my lungs, smile on my face, and 0 pain in my knees, legs, or hips.
Today, my "penalty" was actually a PR for me.
Today, my "penalty" was a source of inspiration to speak of to my kids one day or to someone else that's facing a mountain of doubt, worry, pain, self inflicted denial, or questions about their own two steps to take in life.
When I returned into the garage bay doors, attention was focused on those that were competing, on the next class, and I had nobody to tell it to, but I walked home a proud man for having shattered my comfort zone having just lived through the challenges required to get off the ground, and break into the sky with wings from my heart and soul that don't show up on a white board or gymnasium floor where everyone is focused on weights, gossip, or whatever is 'in' that day.
I should also point out that the first part of the two deciding factors of why my penalty was assessed was another personal best for me - completing a 5-minute version of "Cindy" unbroken and unbanded and non-scaled like I dreamed of months ago, and then establishing a personal best for the Clean & Jerk.
Unfortunately, my C&J was not heavy enough to the competition standards, and I had to go run my penalty.
Where did my two steps take me today?
What's with the shoes you ask time and time again?
Today my shoes hit the ground while my heart soared into the sky.
Today's "penalty" was a PR.
Today was a good day.