Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Murph

Last month, I bet my running buddy Chas that I would finish the Stumpy Creek International Triathlon before he finished the Grandfather Mountain Marathon, held the same day. Assuming both races started on time (Grandfather was scheduled 30 minutes earlier) and we both hit our target times, it should have been neck and neck. As it happened, my race started a little late, I didn't quite make my goal, and Chas crushed his. As per our bet, this meant I had to do a Murph.

A Murph is a Crossfit-style workout, done for speed. You run a mile, do 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, and 300 squats, then run another mile. At this point in my life I was good for maybe 40 or so push-ups, broken into sets. I'd never tried to do anywhere near that many squats, and I could only do assisted pull-ups. Chas agreed that I could do assisted pull-ups, but otherwise I would have to do a full Murph.

Over the next month I did a lot of Murph-specific training -- meaning I did a lot of push-ups and squats. Because I was traveling in Ireland for much of this time, I wasn't able to do many pull-ups. But eventually I worked my way up to being able to do half of a Murph in a single workout.

This morning, Chas and I attempted a full Murph. Chas has done them before, but this was my first try. I knew I could get halfway there, but I had no idea if I could complete the whole thing. My plan was to do the workout in 20 sets of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 squats. I would shoot for two minutes a set. That's 40 minutes, which would mean that all I'd need to do to complete the workout in under an hour is run 10-minute miles.

Here's a photo of the two of us getting ready to start:

Looking chipper!
The mile went by fairly easily, though I'm still bothered by sore glutes/hamstrings. Then we headed inside for the meat of the workout. Chas took a video of my first set:

So far, so good. Just 19 more sets to go. I knew Chas would be a lot faster than me (and he was doing real pull-ups), but I kept to my own pace and just kept plugging away at it. After a few sets, a pool of sweat began to form under my chin during the push-ups.

Occasionally someone needed the pull-up machine, but fortunately they were able to cycle in without interrupting my workout. Unfortunately sometimes I forgot to re-adjust the weight of the assist, which led to some tough reps! (I was giving myself a 60-pound assist). Every four sets, I gave myself a short water break, walking 40 feet to the fountain, taking a sip, and walking back.

Everything was going okay but the pull-ups were starting to get tough. I told myself I could bump up to a 70-pound assist when I was halfway through the workout. I hit halfway, adjusted the weight, and kept going.

With five sets left, Chas said he was done with his and was going to go ahead and do his run. I figured he'd get back in time to see me finish; he'd probably run an 8-minute mile and I was taking just about 2 minutes per set, so I should take 10 minutes.

But as I got closer to the end, I just wanted it to be over, so I sped up. I finished those final sets in 1:43, 1:57, 1:32, 2:00, and 1:40. Chas didn't make it back in time for the last set, so I made a crude selfie to document the effort:

[Insert bad porn joke here]. Yeah, that was awkward, but you do get to see my pool of sweat. I headed downstairs to do the run. Chas was there and joined me. As we started, I could see that all I needed was a 10:30 mile to finish in under an hour. Unfortunately, my first hundred yards or so was at a 14:00 pace! But after that I settled in and ended up completing the mile in 9:22, which meant I had completed a Murph in 58:53. Not bad for a first try. That's 100 more push-ups than I'd ever done in a single session, and 150 more squats. Here we are at the finish:

Two soaking-wet Murphers

Afterwards I treated myself to a cookie with my coffee. I think I earned it, don't you?

Below is the Garmin record of the workout.

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