Thursday, May 18, 2017



So... at the beginning of the year, a Facebook friend from my HH12HR posted a challenge to do 100 burpees/day for 100 days... a tough-as-nails friend who's undertaken Agoge and does burpees with weighted rucks and does all kinds of crazy challenges.  I figured that I do 30 each time I fail an obstacle at Spartan, so it should be a stretch, but doable.  If you accept, you post or email a video of yourself doing the burpees.  My main concern was not having it overlap with the Boston Marathon, since I didn't want burpees to sap me of energy during marathon week, and it looked fine, so I signed up.  My exact words on the sign-up email were "I must be crazy, but you guys are, too.  Let's do this!". 

It began on January 20th.  I'm not sure if it had anything to do with the inauguration, but at least it made the date easy to remember.  I happened to be in Wisconsin for a project at the time, so my burpee journey started there.  In the early days, like the first 10 days, my main concern was fitting them in, amidst long days at work while traveling, and recovering in time each day for the next day's burpees.  To keep my posts clean and easier to track, I did all 100 at once, rather than in sets.  They weren't fast, but they were steady.  Also, I used facebook live for the first time.  It was really convenient, as long as you have a reasonable cell or wifi connection, and it allowed me to not have to worry about having memory on my phone, since I typically have almost no memory left, anyway.

I made it through the first 10 days, and at about the 10th day, it became easier, for the first time.  It did go back to getting harder, but I kept at it.  At some point, the rules permitted people to do the 10,000 burpees across the 100 days, without necessarily needing to do 100 per day for 100 days.  That was good, since it allows people with injuries or other constraints to make it up while still hitting 100.  I'd use that, when I needed to taper for a race, or recover and not risk injury.

That did lead to me getting hundreds behind, but I started being able to do many more in a row at once, working up to 150, and later 200.  Prior to the challenge, the most I had ever done at once was 60, during a couple of workouts.  That was a big jump up.  Once you get used to burpees in general, though, adding incremental amounts isn't too bad, even if the incremental amounts are somewhat significant, percentage-wise.  I'd have to work hard to make them up, but I would.  I'd typically get behind again during the next taper or recovery cycle.  But I'd catch back up.

Memorable burpee sessions:
- One night, between 100 burpee sets (one before midnight, and one after midnight, when I was still strict about hitting the 100 on designated days), I was doing a biking session, at midnight, and I saw a childhood acquaintance pop up as a contestant on a Food Network TV.

- Did burpees on the top of Crowder's Mountain, with some members of Southern Spartans who had run up there, joining me.
- Did burpees on a visit to my hometown, on a picture-perfect pier near sunset.

I tried to keep good form, because if I was going to go through the trouble, I wanted to do it right.  The most challenging part of it all was scheduling time to do it.  

There was one guy who stuck with it to the end.  We'd see each others' videos.  When you scroll through the facebook group, it's kind of funny, too, because I have habits that I didn't even realize that I'd have, when doing the burpees, like shaking out my hands, or kicking back my legs before beginning, or crouching down a certain way when giving a pre-burpee talk in the video.  Day after day.

It's funny how much camaraderie you can feel with others going through the same challenge.  You may be states apart, and may not have ever met in person, but you're in it with them.  You know what each of those burpees feels like, and it's nice to know that there are others counting on you to do yours, since you mutually push each other on towards the finish.

It turned out that I counted wrong, and Boston would be within the 100 days.  I tried to bank what I could, but I knew that I could make up the deficit in the days afterwards.  It was tough, with 215/day for the last 10 days needed to make it.  I ended up having 350 to do on the last day.  Did it, though, in 2 sets, through pepperspray-tainted sweat.  For the last 160, some guys in a Crossfit Box that I was bumming around invited me in, and I finished to blaring motivation music with encouragement from a couple of new-found friends.  It was an epic finish to an epic adventure.

I'm someone who's always been into collecting medals and other mementos of accomplishments of various sorts.  I never quite understood people who say that they don't really care about the medal they get at the end of the race.  While that was my initial main motivation for joining the challenge, over the course of it, that changed.  At some point, what mattered more was the personal journey and finishing what I had set out to do.  

The day after the journey, my co-finisher and I both remarked how strange it felt to not have burpees to do, for once.  He felt like he had a nagging feeling of forgetting to do something, haha.  I had been conditioned to look at any spot of grass or 8'x3' foot space and feel the urge to start doing burpees.     

What have I learned from this crazy challenge?
- How to make time for stuff, fit it in, even when it's hard (although not as well as the other guy, who was perfect and actually a bunch over, for all 100 days)
- The journey and the memories along the way are the real prize
- You can improve, more than you can imagine.  50 at once used to seem crazy.  Then, I jumped up to 100.  By the end, I was doing 250 in a row.  The keys are challenging yourself past what you think are your limits, but also balancing that with listening to your body.
- You can become friends with people in strange ways, haha - I now have some burpee buddies for life!

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