Often times, my favorite part of the day is when I’m working out. When I’m sweating through my shirt on the hot turf, or dry-heaving at the top of a set of stairs, or dripping sweat onto the boxes I’m jumping up onto at the gym.
In college, it’s important to not come off as too weird right away, so I don’t usually share this fact with people until I know them a little better.
The reason that these moments are the best of an otherwise good day is because, as I try to finish the season as a member of Riot that is more than two thousand miles away from Seattle, these are the moments I feel the most connected to my teammates at home.
Working out alone, it is the easiest to feel these connections. Alone on the field, or the stairs, or the gym, it easy to remember that as I am working, I am working for my teammates. I am working for Riot 2015, and our chance at a National title; but in the most challenging moments, the outcome of the season is not what inspires me to make the next rep better than the last.
Whenever I run My Knee is Bleeding, around the last set I start to remember vividly the first time I ran the workout with Shira. There’s no timed rest, the rest is just to come back down the stairs and resetting. It can be tempting to take a few extra seconds between reps, or walk slowly, but for the whole workout Shira pushed the pace between reps as well as the speed of the reps, and I am forever inspired to do the same. The workout also sticks out in my mind because Shira reached out to me to get together before I knew anyone on Worlds and it meant the world to me.
When I run lines—the kind of workout I hate the most—I think about running them with Sadler on the Garfield turf. We were partnered up, alternating sets, and for each rep we would throw the disc to each other every time we hit a line. By the last set, we were exhausted and getting a little sloppy, and we agreed no turnovers. Of course, as Saddles made the 40-yard away cut, I overthrew her. It would have been easy to pull up, but instead Saddles hit the turf with a massive bid that must have cost the little breath she had left. So now, when I run lines, I remember that excellence is in the times when no one could blame you for giving up. And I see Saddles giving me a big grin while we do our secret handshake, or as joke about the workout, or when we get a big break.
During the past weekend, as Riot played at Regionals, I wanted to distract and exhaust myself. So I decided to start my workout with my favorite exercise, running stairs. I ended up doing 3 sets of 15 reps of some activity—stairs, agility runs, burpees—for Riot’s 3 games to 15 that day. The stairs I chose were part of Dartmouth’s stadium, about three flights from the turf to the top of the stands. Each rep I did as fast as I could, either hitting each step, skipping a step, or hitting each step twice. It was hot, the stairs were steep, and by the fourth rep I was sweating through my shirt. By the time I had done eight reps, my legs were shaking. When I hit twelve, I started saying my teammates’ names out loud as I walked back down to the bottom of the stairs. When I made it back to the top, I almost puked.
I stood at the bottom of the stairs one last time, staring at the first step and feeling my legs tremble, and putting off for every microsecond I could the final rep. In that moment, as I tried to find my strength, I thought about Cheide. I thought about a killer crossfit workout we completed together one time. I could picture the grit and game face she brings to the field every time we are on the D line together. Finally, sort of out of nowhere but very vividly, I remembered the first ever Riot meeting where I appreciated Cheide for giving me a big smile and being excited to see me every practice and how, right after I made the team, she sent me a super nice facebook message.
I don’t consciously remember starting the rep, but I swear that that last stair climb was the quickest one I did all day. My legs felt fast again and I was at the top of the stairs before I knew it.
So when new friends ask me why and how I can do such challenging workouts almost every day, I’m not always sure how to answer. But finally, I can articulate it: it’s because I have teammates that are so awesome, they can lift me up three flights of stairs from 2,400 miles away.