Mind of a Coach: Oddly Human

Day 1

I remember it perfectly because the thought of getting on an airplane makes me feel like my life is ending. Dramatic? Yes, but if you know me that shouldn’t surprise you. On planes I uncontrollably think of all the things in my life I wish I had done and will no longer be able to do, like it may well be the end. But this particular plane ride was different. I felt like when the plane explodes and I die (hopefully not the way there at least) it would be okay because making Regionals was what I was on this earth to do. I wasn’t sure why I felt this way…….not yet anyway.

When we arrived, Chrissy, Josh, and I were able to go into the arena and get a tour. The Regionals staff took me downstairs for shoe fitting, like a buff Cinderella. They gave me all this sweet gear, at which point I was ready to peace out, but Joshua wasn’t leaving without that damn Reebok sign so we had to stay. I honestly, and quite surprisingly, didn’t feel anything that day. Maybe “numb” is the best way to describe it. It was too unreal to be real. Even at the athlete briefing, I still didn’t feel like I was where I was.

Day 2

Reality set in the following day just before WOD 1, “oh shit, what have I gotten myself into?”

I was called into a stall with the pack of Amazonian dinosaurs that made up my heat, tagged with what I swear was an alcohol tether, and marked with the numbers ‘230’ like an animal ready for slaughter. After checking me in 1000 times, they corralled us around a corner and said “1 minute.”

Well shit, what the fuck do I do now?

“30 seconds.”

OMG I have to pee and my mouth is a desert.

“10 seconds”



I was running out on the floor, on a green mat in a lane with cameras all up in my business and people cheering like their team just won the Super Bowl. This is where you realize you’re about to do shit regardless if you’re warmed up enough or even still want to be there. You are going to do this WOD. It’s not like you can just stand there the whole time, smiling and waving like a pageant queen, no matter how badly that’s exactly what you’d like to do. The moment you realize you actually want to do this and you will do this is when they say “Lane 2, From NEW SPECIES CROSSFIT.”

At that moment, I was not me, Marcella Morrill, I was New Species Crossfit. “Athletes 1 minute…30 seconds…10 Seconds…Athletes standby…3-2-1…Beeeeep.” Welcome to the 2015 Reebok Hunger Games, motherfuckers!

I came into the first WOD planning for the adrenaline to flood my veins, just like at team comps. But that didn’t happen; I felt exhausted and (oddly) human and I now understand why. The lights were blinding, the announcers loud, the music nonexistent, the beeping clocks annoying, the vendors cawing. It was sensory overload. This exhausted me in a way I had never experienced, and never expected.

WOD 2: Tommy V

I remember taking the floor before Tommy V thinking “OK, I’ve done this WOD at home I can do it again.” Tommy V is forever my enemy; it’s rope climb suicide. After the first round I legitimately decided I was quitting CrossFit altogether. I had an entire conversation with Josh in my head, “Josh, thank you for everything but this is not for me. It’s just too hard and is not what I want anymore.”

But then a few rope climbs later it got much, much worse. After the second round, I decided that getting injured or even dying would be better than continuing this WOD. So, why didn’t I just stop, you ask? Because you CAN’T stop. It doesn’t matter how tired and hurt you are, you keep going. Julie Foucher later ruptured her Achilles, and did she stop? No, because you just can’t. It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever felt in my life. I climbed to the top of the rope at one point and I looked at my hands and said to myself “let go. LET GO. Maybe you’ll break your leg and won’t have to finish this WOD.”

My mind was going crazy, but somehow my hands held on tighter. My body took over and got me through the workout. After the WOD I couldn’t talk to anyone. I went back to the house, laid in my bed, and thought “how the HELL am I going to come back tomorrow?” Never in my life has anything mentally fucked me up so hard that I wanted to be injured. Tommy V hurt me real bad inside. Josh hasn’t yet asked me to redo this WOD, but when that day comes, it was really nice knowing all of you.

The Turning Point

Each WOD beat me in a different way. I never felt like I was able to master the nerves from being herded like cattle or taking the floor. But I was able to have fun with the WODs. I realized I wasn’t going to win this competition but I could have fun with it and when I started having fun I felt like I was winning.

I had one moment of fame during the handstand walk and then was completely owned by the snatch. This opportunity for improvement motivates me to work harder every day. I had attempted WOD 4 twice before Regionals but never made it to the last round. On day 3 I beat some fellow badasses and made it further than I ever had on WOD 4. I also PRed my max chest to bar butterfly pull-ups, a movement I had mastered just days before Regionals. These small personal goals and PRs are what keeps us going.

When I ripped my hands in WOD 4 is when Regionals finally felt “normal.” I remember thinking “wow, my hands are so wet.” So I just splashed them around in the chalk bucket and kept grinding. I went into WOD 5 functionally handless, and somehow managed to get through the muscle ups. I remember standing at that last barbell thinking “this last 175# clean stands between me and being completely done with a weekend of pure hell and pain.” And yet it wouldn’t come up. Finally, my third attempt was successful, thank god. I leapt on the red mat for the last time and felt pure relief.

The Aftermath

I didn’t say many words during the trip. I couldn’t speak because I was in shock. Not because of Tommy V, the pain, the soreness, the deceivingly hard workouts, or the number of amazing butts….but because of the support of the New Species Crossfit Tribe. Without your support, I couldn’t have done this. The facebook posts, messages, calls, and pictures were incredible and overwhelming. People I hadn’t even had the chance to get to know reached out to support my efforts. JD’s message made me cry real, human tears. You lifted me up when Tommy beat me down and you gave me the strength to get through a weekend that I could never have prepared for on my own. I never felt like I was doing this alone, for that I thank you.

Thank you for supporting my training, for cheering me on during the WODs, for watching from back home, and for taking me through to the end. Thank you to Josh, who is the most incredible coach and who never left my side. I could not have done this without every single one of you and I could not be more grateful to be a part of this tribe and this family we call New Species CrossFit. I felt this in the arena, on the plane ride home, and every day since when I wake up and come to the box.

This experience taught me the true meaning of CrossFit. Fuck winning: It’s all about the support. These athletes work so fucking hard and are so fucking passionate about their sport. They bleed, sweat, cry, and endure immense amounts of pain all for their people, who support them all year round. It’s incredible. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to represent our Tribe. Regionals changed my life; now I know why it was so easy to get on that plane.

Moving Forward

I’m easily 3 times the athlete I was then. It has motivated me to work so much harder. Of course, just like anyone else, I have good and bad weeks. I struggle to eat right and foam roll enough. But I now trust the journey more than ever before. I trust our programming, and Josh, and our coaches, and I do my best to stay on track. My dragon tattoo makes me feel like I can do anything (and wasn’t nearly as painful as Tommy V). Every year the program gets harder and the athletes get better but I hope to earn the opportunity to represent you all again next year.