Saturday, February 4, 2012

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Picture re-post from July 10, 2010.

MPH has been open for 922 days. Never one heavier than this, Mike and Caitlin’s last at the box. Tomorrow, they head West to San Francisco, CA.

It breaks me to write this goodbye—this thank-you, a reminder of friendship and the virtue of surrounding yourself, sharing yourself with the best people.

It’s taken 45 minutes just to write these five sentences. No matter what I get down, it can’t express what I, we actually feel today…

I met Mike maybe five years ago. He had personal training sessions to use at our last gym, and we were matched accidentally. Mike hates this part of the story, but at our first session, a conversation to introduce ourselves and goal-set, he barely looked up from his phone for the hour. When I suggested a weekly training schedule, he replied, thumbs in stride, “take a number.”

It was probably my winning personality that broke his will won him over, but it didn’t take Mike long to see the value in our type of fitness—what Melody and I were working feverishly to build. I introduced him to Neil (we know how that turned out) via a weekly group workout that ultimately included Mel and Dave O., too. That foursome was the beginning of MPH as you know it, in more ways than one…

Caitlin came around at the end of our time there, and she was our last new athlete before we left to open MPH. Cait—what a gal. I remember wondering exactly how Mike had pulled that off. I’ve never known anyone so warm, so nice—so completely unable to push jerk a pvc pipe.

As Melody and I got closer to striking out on our own, our business plans were even drawn on Mike and Cait’s kitchen table—a lectern that keynoted every major decision we’ve made in the last three years, along with countless drinks and dinners, and exchanges on friendship, family, fitness…life.

We have dozens of memories of our time together. A few are chronicled on this site (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8), but the space isn’t worthy of most. For us—Melody, Rebekka and me—we say goodbye to our support, our strength, our guidance, and the reason we exist at all.

For me…no workout or story from here can singularize or epitomize what they’ve done for, or mean to me. Mike and Cait have helped me learn what it means to be a friend—that on the rare occasion you meet someone exceptional to share a meal, a workout, an idea, a success or a failure, a home, or a life with…that you make time, spend time and hold onto her, him or them.

This, as sad as I am though, is not goodbye. I can’t—won’t. So, travel safely, and I’ll see you in a small time.


Force Couple
for time:
800m run

then, for time:
25x handstand pushup
5x clean @ body weight
50x pull-up
10x clean
75x pushup
15x clean


  1. Ted | February 3, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    This is almost unimaginable – but what a legacy you are leaving us and what fun to imagine the new adventures that await you both in San Francisco. Thank you, Mike, for being so supportive for the four years I’ve been fortunate to be a part of this community, and Caitlin, thanks for your friendship and grace since coming to the “new box.” We are all so much stronger, as individuals and as a community, because of you both.

  2. mike | February 3, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    Over the years and on several occasions, John has posted on this blog about my performances (bad and good), has given me lots of praise (deserved and undeserved) and has embarrassed me again and again by expressing his friendship and thanking me for mine. [Edit: he did it again, almost two hours ago]

    My turn.

    I have known John since summer 2007, which was just a few months after I moved to DC. I moved here to get married to my college girlfriend, but got dumped instead. I was looking for a fix – anything to make the pain stop – but after smoking and drinking from 2001 to 2006, I couldn’t do much. I weighed about 170 pounds (15 pounds more than I do today) and, in John’s words, I was “soft.” In my own words, I was a “skinny fat person,” i.e., I had beer belly, skinny arms, and no real strength to speak of.

    John was patient. To his credit, this must have been hard. I showed up with an attitude; as a former collegiate athlete, the mere act of getting a coach felt like an admission that I had failed at maintaining my own masculinity. I recall claiming I didn’t have time to meet for hour-long workouts – which was much more a revelation of my faulty priorities and deep insecurities than any problem with my schedule. Still, he was patient. [Edit: funny that we both bring this up]

    Over the next year, John wrote me workouts on these little prescription cards. Anyone from the original crew probably recalls the cards, gray with black print. He used to write in pencil, in that block writing he uses on the dry-erase board nowadays. These were custom workouts, and the focus was most definitely strength. Lots of squats, lots of deadlifts, lots of pullups.

    The first year was pretty rough for me personally. I was still all tangled up with my ex, and did not end things permanently until August 2008. As a result, I was pretty closed up. I raise this because one of my biggest regrets about my friendship with John is that it didn’t start sooner.

    Things started to take off for me in the Fall of 2008. Newly single, I was opening up as a person, but, more importantly, I went Paleo! My fitness improved a lot, and as a result, my confidence grew a lot, too. Not many people know this (probably not even Caitlin), but I owe much of my present happiness to John and the attention and encouragement he gave me during this time. Something special happens to your life when you get stronger and fitter, and for me it was the realization that none of my desires was out of reach. I doubt that I would have been able to start my first healthy relationship ever (hi Caitlin) were it not for the emotional place I was in during the Fall of 2008. So to John, a million thanks. You may not realize it, but you helped me find much, much more than a heavy clean and jerk.

    Of course, I came to this realization as it was happening. And the only way I knew to express it to John was to suggest that he open a box. His response was that he had already been considering it (no surprise there). I like to believe that if he had any doubts back then, it was my encouragement that helped tip the scale towards going for it and opening MPH.

    It was around this same time that I also got to know (and have epic WOD battles with) Mel, Neil, and Dave O. As you all know, solid friendships get forged in the heat of WOD-battle, and these friendships at MPH are solid indeed. Dave O. stopped by the box the other day just to make sure he could say goodbye – Cait and I were touched by this. Neil and I hang out, but ignore this upcoming change – it hurts too much to discuss. And all I can do is smile at Mel, and at BK, because there just aren’t words. If you want to understand caring and patience, just watch these two carefully pick out your weights, give you the same cues they gave you the previous weeks, and not completely lose their minds when you make the same mistakes again and again and again. You are both extremely talented and awesome people, and Caitlin and I love you very much.

    [And of course there are so many more MPH friends, and Cait and I fear that listing any here will offend those we fail to list. So we thank you all for sharing your WODs with us, for sweating with us, for cheering for us and with us, and for working harder when we have cheered for you.]

    But back to my story. Momentum is a wonderful thing, and by June 2009, anything seemed possible. John (with indispensible help from Mel and BK) was getting ready to open the box. Naturally, our relationship took a turn at this point. John went from coach to business owner, and I had my chance to give to him in some of the ways I felt he had given to me. And so our friendship began. I threw myself into MPH, this awesome experiment in community. I don’t know that my efforts as counselor will ever mean to him as much as his efforts as coach have meant to me, but I hope he can see how much I care about his success and happiness. Watching John grow into his new role as a business owner during that first year was awesome. He handled stress and obstacles with poise, and impressed me constantly.

    Over the next two and half years, our friendship grew. We shared a lot of joys and a lot of sorrows, and shared as well each other’s professional, athletic, and personal successes and mistakes. In the last year especially, I have had the privilege of witnessing John grow as a person by leaps and bounds. I am so glad he shared this with me, and I know Caitlin feels this way too.

    John is one of the few people in my life who will tell it to me like it is, and he is invaluable to me because of it. He is also funny, has very good taste in music, and likes to eat a lot – all glorious attributes in my book. But if I had single out John’s greatest strength – that thing for which I look up to him most – it is that he has more integrity than anyone I have ever met. Integrity is a funny thing; everyone likes to believe they have it, but it’s really only as strong as the last time it got tested, and most of us give in or at least “bend the rules” when that happens. Not so with John. Just ask him to bend his own rules, to do something questionable, to act in opposition to his own beliefs — and watch what happens. He’ll look at you like you have two heads. And if you put him in a dilemma, where staying the course is especially tough, here’s a bit of advice: run for cover, because he’ll break everything in his path to do what needs to be done.

    So, Juancito, here’s to almost 5 years together. I can’t thank you enough for your support and encouragement over the years. I owe you what feels like a huge debt, but since you’re like a brother to me, I’m never repaying it.


  3. The Diesel | February 3, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    Well said, Mike. Its been an absolute pleasure banging weights with you for the past 3 1/2 years or so. I remember a few Grace battles well and will be forever saddened that I’ll never get a shot at a rematch of the 20 minute WOD you beat me by one rep on. One damn rep, Mike, but that’s you and you never left one rep in the tank and my respect for that knows no bounds. It was a pleasure also because I know when we faced off, I was going to give the best of myself on that day. I wish I could say that on a more consistent basis, but hey, we all fight our own battles. On those days we faced off, it was flat out for those 5/10/20 minutes or x number of reps. Flat out and its a rare individual who brings out the best in someone every time. I thank you immensely for that. Rarer still is that person who can go flat out and compete, but once the clock stops, can maintain the great humor and camaraderie you display daily. To have been the recipient of and to share in that mentality was a great honor and pleasure.
    Take care of Cait, as I know you will, she’s a pretty great gal in her own right. A broken leg, and still WODing? Flat bad ass, girl. You and Mike are a great team and it has been one of the great pleasures of my time in DC knowing the both of you.
    And yes, Mike, I will be there at 9AM for the sole purpose of counting you through your final MPH WOD. There may be cursing, but its born out of great respect and with thanks for the times we’ve spent battling at the box.

    Take care of yourselves, both of you.


    • Rob | February 4, 2012 at 10:26 pm

      Well said. Mike – you’ve been the “rabbit” that I have looked up to for many years now. Ever since my 3rd or 4th WOD at MPH when we did 800 runs, and all I could think was “this guy is fast!” And then I found myself saying the same thing when it came to weighted WODs. It’s been good to have your performances as a goal. And it’s very impressive that you have left big law to follow your heart in “real” law, of which I sincerely wish you the best. I’m sure you two will have success no matter where you go. I look forward to you coming back to the box, the sooner the better!

  4. cjsiegel | February 4, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Mike n Cait–we’re so happy for you guys, San Fran is lucky! The awesome intensity, mentoring and great smiles you bring to the gym will sorely be missed.
    Best wishes guys! Please visit!
    Christine, Dave and Ryan

  5. jimc2 | February 4, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Jim C.:

    “Force Couple”

    2:47 (actually ran .8 miles in 4:28 thinking I was stil on the metric system, then converted the time)

    20:07 (sub: 135lbs)

    Got some good practice in handstand pushups.

  6. alissa g. | February 4, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Bummed to have been away for this workout.

    @San Francisco Crossfit

    Beach workout
    4 rounds of:
    1 Sand sprint (seemed like it was around 200m)
    10 pushups
    15 dumbbell swings (50/30lbs)
    20 double unders

    No idea what the time was–did everything as rx’d except did single unders, which are kind of hard to do in the sand.

    200m tabata single arm overhead lunge (alternating arms each round)
    and 50 knees to elbows

    Used a 20lb dumbbell, took 13 rounds for the lunges
    Did 25 knees to elbows (kipping, not strict), there wasn’t a clock so I don’t know the time

  7. coach | February 5, 2012 at 7:33 am

    Rob K.: 2:39, 20:59 (sub: 2x pushup)
    Brian T.: 2:30, dnf
    Derek B.: 3:10, 18:33 (125-lbs.; sub: prom hspu, 1 x 45-lb. plate)
    Chris T.: 2:47, 16:50 (125-lbs.; sub: pushup, 1/2x pull-up)
    Claire H.: 2:48, 19:15 (125-lbs.; sub: prom hspu, 1 x 15-lb. plate)
    Jeff W.: 3:44, 19:15 (100-lbs.; sub: pushup)
    Ted K.: 3:25, 13:54 (95-lbs.; sub: pushup, 1/2x pull-up)
    Ashley T.: 3:02, 16:12 (85-lbs.; sub: pushup, 3/10x pull-up)
    Glenn C.: 3:06, 17:30 (45-lb. dbs.; sub: pushup, 1/2x jump-stretch strict pull-up, red)
    Mark Co.: 3:05, 19:06 (45-lb. dbs; sub: pushup, pull-up)
    Cristian D.: 3:08, 19:15 (40-lb. dbs; sub: pushup, 1/2x pull-up)
    Roselena R.: 3:56, dnf
    Jen O.: 4:02, 1848 (35-lb. dbs.; sub: pushup, 1/2x jump-stretch strict pull-up, green, 1/3x pushup)
    Mark L.: 3:00, 9:13 (25-lb. dbs; sub: pushup, 1/2x strict bodyrow, 1/3x pushup)
    Molly B.: 1:56, 15:58 (20-lb. dbs; sub: 400m run, knee pushup, 1/2x strict bodyrow, 1/3x knee pushup)
    Kirsten P.: 3:04, 18:22 (20-lb. dbs; sub: pushup, 1/2x jump-stretch strict pull-up, blue, 2/3x pushup)
    Mike S.: 2:32, 17:48
    Chris C.: 2:49, 23:20 (150-lbs.; sub: prom hspu, 1 x 25-lb. plate)
    Josh M.: 2:38, 21:34
    Jason C.: 3:26, 22:44 (105-lbs.; sub: 50x no pushup burpee, prom hspu, 1 x 25-lb. plate)
    Neil A.: 3:01, 20:10 (sub: prom hspu, 1 x 45-lb. plate)
    Greg F.: 2:45, 18:12 (sub: pushup, 2x lunge, 1/2x jump-stretch strict pull-up, blue, 2/3x pushup)
    Johnny A.: 3:34, 17:58 (40-lb. dbs; sub: pushup, 1/2x jump-stretch strict pull-up, blue, 2/3x pushup)
    Danny M.: 2:40, 16:10 (85-lbs.; sub: pushup, 1/2x pull-up)
    Candida M.: 3:31, 17:15 (30-lb. dbs; sub: pushup, 1/2x jump-stretch strict pull-up, blue, 1/3x pushup)
    Bill M.: 3:14, 19:23 (35-lb. dbs: sub: pushup, 1/2x jump-stretch strict pull-up, blue, 2/3x pushup)
    Jeremy M.: 2:55, 10:15 (sub: 2x lunge; sub: sit-up, 1/2x strict bodyrow, sit-up)
    Caitlin S.: 3:14.1, 17:15 (sub: 800m row, prom hspu, 1 x 45-lb. plate, 2x lunge, 3/10x pull-up)
    Jeremy N.: 3:12, dnf
    Michael F.: 2:37, 23:18 (135-lbs., bw.; sub: prom hspu, 1 x 25-lb. plate)
    Steve D.: 2:51, dnf
    Keith H.: 3:06, 16:21 (110-lbs.; sub: pushup, 1/2x jump-stretch strict pull-up, blue)
    Holmes H.: 3:10, 14:43 (90-lbs.; sub: sit-up, 1/2x strict bodyrow, sit-up)
    Thomas M.: 3:00, 15:33 (85-lbs.; sub: pushup)
    Campbell R.: 3:20, 20:34 (70-lbs.; sub: pushup, 2/5x jump-stretch strict pull-up, green, 1/3x pushup)
    Keena S.: (mobility)
    Chad P.: 3:25, 16:43 (40-lb. dbs; sub: pushup, 1/2x jump-stretch strict pull-up, red, 2/3x pushup)
    Keith W.: 3:29, 18:32 (35-lb. dbs; sub: pushup, 1/2x jump-stretch strict pull-up, red, 2/3x pushup)
    Ben H.: 2:43, 13:59 (sub: pushup, 2x lunge, 1/2x jump-stretch strict pull-up, blue, 2/3x pushup)
    Arvin G.: 3:13, 18:27 (35-lb. dbs; sub: pushup, 1/2x jump-stretch strict pull-up, red, 2/3x pushup)
    Kerstin C.: 4:05, 18:37 (25-lb. dbs; sub: knee pushup, 1/2x strict bodyrow, 1/3x knee pushup)
    Katie K.: 3:13, 19:44 (30-lb. dbs; sub: pushup, 1/2x jump-stretch strict pull-up, green, knee pushup)

    • coach | February 5, 2012 at 7:33 am

      Notes for today:
      –DNF Substitutions:
      Brian T.: (160-lbs., bw)
      Roselena R.: (35-lb. dbs; sub: pushup, 1/2x jump-stretch strict pull-up, red, 2/3x pushup)
      Jeremy N.: (205-lbs., sub: 1/2x pull-up)
      Steve D.: (185-lbs., bw; sub: prom hspu, 1 x 45-lb. plate)


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