“Walking in the light” — When I was supposed to be running at Crossfit


I was on lap 15 around the track at crossfit last night at the end of our workout (don’t be impressed… these are small laps, 1/6 of a mile each) when I noticed something happen in me.

I was running at the moment, but lots of people were walking at all different points on the track, which I had just been doing, too.  Our trainer yelled across the dark parking lot, “Come on!  Stop walking!  Stop Cheating!  I can see you… you’re not hiding!”

I had fallen into the pattern on the last couple laps of running 3/4 of the lap and then walking around the the last bend (which was the darkest portion of the parking lot and most hidden from view from Troy, the trainer). After he yelled the comment about “I can see you” which wasn’t directed toward me, something happened inside of me without me even being conscious of it.

As I approached the last bend where I’d normally walk, I slowed to a walk for 3 steps to get a few deep breaths, and then I kept running until I was in the light, right in front of Troy. Then began to walk until I hit the next bend where it was dark — then I’d run again.  I kept that pattern for the last 4 laps I had to run.

At first, as I noticed it, I wondered, “what is this… am I being obstinate?” That is like me normally, but in Crossfit, I have a very different personality:  I am not very competitive, I don’t question or challenge, I just do as I’m told. So this seeming streak of obstinance was odd.  And I didn’t feel like I was doing it just to be stubborn. I just needed to walk a few steps each lap.

Then I realized…

I’m an open person. The people close to me know more about me than they may want to know. Believe me. (Ask them about the last time I had the stomach flu… they all know the gross, embarrassing details.) I don’t really keep secrets.  I am independent and I like to not feel tied down or trapped, but I am open and honest

The thing is, I had this one secret that no one knew. I wish I had told it, but I didn’t and the secret got out anyway. It ruined, shattered, decimated my life and the lives of many, many others.  The damage is still very much a part of everyday life for many of us that are left sorting through the ruins, trying to rebuild.  The damage is so much worse because it was a secret for so long.

I made a commitment after that to have no more secrets.  If I’m doing something right, if I’m doing something wrong but don’t want to change it… it doesn’t matter, but I want to be honest about it. It’s a self-protection thing as much as it is an integrity thing. And it’s a practice that I had in place in my life for the most part already, but now I have a knee-jerk reaction against secrecy or the indication of secrecy.

So, put that onto a track in a dark parking lot where we’re supposed to run a 5k after our crossfit workout, and you get me, deliberately walking in the lighted areas where I can be sure that our trainer can see me.

So that’s what I’m trying to do these days: to not pretend to be anything but what I am. In the good ways and the bad ways.

And I believe there’s value in that. I believe it’s even Biblical for those of us of a Christian faith: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

When we walk in the light, we can have fellowship — which means we can be real, be known, and be encouraging to one another.

I’m sure part of it had to do with me being new, too, but Troy never did yell at me for walking when I did. It would be silly to yell, “I can see you” when I was standing in front of him. Instead, he was able to speak words of encouragement at a normal decibal, “Come on, a few more laps, you can make it, good job.”

Joanna O’Hanlon is an adventurer and story-teller. She tries to be honest about the ugly and hard parts of life, and the beautiful parts too. This blog is one of the places she shares her thoughts and stories.  Other places are

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