Guest Post By Guy Petruzzelli
"The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time."
I've written posts from several places over the last 10 years, but my current seat is not one I ever imagined. Nor was the way in which I got here. Acknowledging that I am behind several posts, primarily of product testing, program testing, and the like, wasn't what prompted this most recent ramble. Rather, it is the way in which I landed myself in a hospital room at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital. Admittedly, a very nice, modern and friendly place, just not somewhere I wanted to spend any extended amount of time.
The how I got here is the easy part. At least, it would seem that way. In rather typical Chicago weather fashion, last week, and the better part of this week, were very hot. A dramatic change of about 45 degrees in just a few days. I felt as though I was acclimating well, having spent a great deal of time training outdoors last Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Memorial Day rolled around and there it was in my schedule - Long Murph. 5k run, 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, 300 squats, 5k run, 50 pull ups, 100 push ups, 150 squats, 5k run. With a 20 lb vest. Standard Murph is typically preformed on Memorial Day at CrossFit gyms across the globe, in honor of Michael Murphy, featured in the film "Lone Survivor". His bravery and selfless act was in an effort to save his squad mates, and the workout is preformed in his honor. I've done Murph several times. I've done the amount of volume prescribed in Long Murph. I had a plan. It just wasn't a good one.
I didn't start the workout until 2 pm, when the heat and sun were at their worst, still, I had mapped out my hydration protocol, as well as pacing. I knew this was a long day, and decided going slower would allow me to take fewer breaks, while yielding the results the workout was intended. At first, things seemed fine. It was difficult, hot, but I was moving well. Pain set in, but nothing out of the ordinary. I kept moving. I finished. I wasn't writhing around on the ground in agony. I wasn't feeling dehydrated or dizzy. I felt rather accomplished. I knew what the workout was supposed to replicate, and that left me feeling very good about the races that lie ahead.
Tuesday came, and I was sore, but I still got on my bike in the heat and sun and rode 2 hours. I was tired, but figured it was just residual from the last few days in the heat. By Tuesday night, I was starting to feel fairly terrible. By Wednesday, I had zero energy and everything hurt. After coaching Thursday morning, I went to the ER. It was a smart move. My CKE - Creatine-Kinese number was 13,000. In layman's terms, it's not good. It's actually bad. I had rhabdo. Something I never thought I would get. But there it was in black and white. Rhabdo.
IV bag hooked up, sent to a room. And here I sit. Day 2, 5 IV bags later, with a lot of time on my hands, and I'm no longer wondering how. The how comes down to this - I don't like to do things half ass. I believe that everything is everything, so every workout has a reason, that goes beyond simple adaptation. It's the same reason sitting in a cold tub is not just about recovery. Things are not always singular in nature. We miss much if we look it at things in just one dimension. I owe a great deal of this vision to my coach, Cody, and mentor, Brian MacKenzie. So the ability to "sit in the suck" was more mental than physical. But over-estimating my ability to acclimate to heat, training intensity and duration while attacking the same body part at high volume, wasn't me using intellect. It was a mistake. If I really believe everything is everything, then I should have planned better. And clearly, I didn't. So this got me thinking.
There are a lot of us in the world of sport who have the ability to endure. It varies to a person, but at a certain level, we just know how to suffer. For long periods. But in those moments, its so easy to just zone out, and not stay present in what the hell we are doing. Or why. We lose sight of the bigger goal. That's how we end up in hospital beds writing blog posts about not wanting to be in a hospital bed. This is what I did. I trusted my fitness could overcome anything. But real fitness is more than physical adaptation; its mental and emotional adaptation and awareness. Being able to change in the moment to get the results you need. That means staying clued in. It means not allowing a training session to go so south that it sets you back.
The responsibility for what happened rest squarely on my shoulders. Admitting that was the first part of healing. My coach programmed what made sense, and trusted his athlete would use the muscle that sits 3 feet above my ass. This isn't on him. I'm used to volume, intensity, heat. Its actually even more ironic, because I was one of the people who said the CrossFit athletes who preformed poorly in Murph at the 2015 Games had no one to blame but themselves. I watched the mistakes. Had them in mind at 2 pm on Monday. At 2:00:01, I forgot all of it. How can I point the finger at anyone else knowing that very thing? How childish and ridiculous would that be? There has to be personal responsibility. There just has to. We're so quick to blame the heat, to blame a coach, a workout, whatever, when the bottom line is - the shit you do is on you. Period. Full stop. And this applies to everything. Your job, your life, why your coffee is too hot, just everything. Stop passing the blame on others. For the love of baby Jesus, take some fucking responsibility for your shit. Stop asking for sympathy. Ask for fortitude and humility to take the hit for why you're in the situation your in.
It doesn't matter how fit, smart, beautiful, witty, etc, etc if you are blaming others as to why you aren't able to harness the full power of your talents. You have to stop sleep walking through things, because even the mundane is important. The mundane means something. Make it mean something. Make everything mean something. The world isn't conspiring against you. Fate isn't out to get you. That's such a cop out. Its weak. Learn from mistakes. Be open to realizing you made them. We all do. This time, I fucked up. I'm paying for it. That's ok. I'll rebound. Yes, there's some fear about what getting back to where I was, but that's something I have to overcome mentally, not physically. Because as nice as this hospital is, they still serve hospital food. So, you know.
Everything is everything. I've said it a lot in this post. Because it bears repeating. Maybe more for me than you. Remembering that is what will keep me out of the hospital and on the race course.
Thanks to everyone who sent me well wishes, who came to visit, who kept my spirits up. Thanks to the amazing hospital staff who have been so great the entire time. Thanks to my mom for yelling at me, telling me she was so upset that she wasn't going to come see me, then hung up the phone. Then proceeded to call several times to check in. And yell at me. We all show our love in different ways.
Be safe, be smart, and stay strong.