I am 46 years old and just ran my first 5K.  Thanks to kool-aid.  CrossFit kool-aid.

A year ago I did not know what CrossFit was.  I have never been anything close to athletic. In college, I took bowling to avoid Phys. Ed.  But last summer my husband Chris was hired to help transform an old furniture warehouse into the Swamp Rabbit CrossFit, and everything was about to change.

Just before the gym opened, I received word that a pre-cancerous condition I’d been battling for two years had become aggressive, and it wasn’t clear how much treatment would be needed.  Surgery, for sure, but then what?   Like most moms, I don’t have time to be sick. But having a special needs child, the stakes were even higher.   Forget “fight like a girl” – this was going to be war.

This is about the time I met Marine Corporal Jacob German.  He’s known at SRC as Coach Jake.  Jake had ran Chris through a workout and it looked like fun. Throw a ball at the wall, swing a metal one in the air, run a little bit – how hard could it be? At least it wasn’t Zumba; no rhythm was needed – my kind of program. I needed to get in shape, and I needed to do it fast.

The first day, I couldn’t run 300 meters. Jake ran with us and witnessed this pathetic struggle. But after that, I was there five days a week, trusting that the Marine could get me battle ready. I didn’t just drink the kool-aid, I guzzled it. I would say that CrossFit was my sanity, but there was nothing sane about my life during that time.   Fear drove me beyond that.  But by surgery day, six weeks later, I was ready. Three days later, I ran a half mile and felt great.  I was lucky – no chemo was needed.  The only lasting side effect would be my new addiction.

Jake sent rehab WODs, but there’s only so much thrill you can get from passing the folks pushing walkers at the Life Center.  Besides, I missed the box – missed the “motor cross boys,” missed the challenge of trying to keep up with folks half my age, missed the fellowship of the cult that they call CrossFit.  I was ready to come back, and this time it was going to be for fun.   No fear and desperation.  No battle training.  Just fun.

That’s not to say there haven’t been casualties……. there is a box stained with my blood from a spectacular wipe out doing box jumps.   The splatter design is because I refused to stop.  My hands are calloused from a newly acquired skill of rope climbing.   There are days I can’t raise my arms above my waist, and after the last Murph, I vowed to invent a device that allows women to pee standing up.

But I love it.  They say CrossFit is not just a work out, it’s a way of life.

CrossFit training demands that we routinely exceed the expectations we have for ourselves, and in the process, Mud Runs, CrossFit Games, and now even 5ks have entered my world of leisure.   But it’s more than that.

CrossFit is also an identity. An identity that is quite literally earned with blood, sweat, and tears.

After 46 years, I am finally an athlete. My legs have the scars to prove it.

Tough as nails.  Battle ready.  Bring it on.

Cass Gorton

June 29, 2013