Deb Mastin is such a wonderful lady! Deb has been training at Strongside for nearly 4yrs and I have loved working with her! Deb will tackle any task head on. Just like all of us, she may have reservations about the task or she may be uncertain but she understands the reward and Deb will GET AFTER IT!!
I wanted Deb to share her MUPRH story because like many of us, Deb looks at the MURPH workout, not only as a way to honor those who have sacrificed for our freedom and as way to give her best effort and accomplish the task to show support. Deb is an amazing winner and I hope you can relate to her story – it’s amazing!
- Mitchel Black
I don’t remember whose idea it was for me to participate in my first Murph, mine or Mitchel’s. I think we decided that participating in the 2019 Murph would be a worthy goal for me when we we met in January 2019 to set my fitness goals for the year.
Mitchel and I trained in preparation for the Murph with Mitchel’s typical compassionate but strong coaching style. So I was ready to go…
I spent Saturday and Sunday that Memorial Day weekend at my sister’s lake home in South Carolina with friends and family. The Atlanta metro area was under a weather alert, with record-breaking heat and humidity predicted for Memorial Day. My friends and family were quite concerned about me participating in such a vigorous event during record breaking heat, and did not hesitate to share their concerns very clearly.
So, ! spent Sunday, May 26, 2019 floating in the lake on a noodle with a gallon jug of water, floating beside me, hydrating and questioning my decision to participate in the 2019 Murph.
As I left South Carolina Sunday evening, my sister expressed her concern and encouraged me to stay, party and relax with the rest of the group. I was sorely tempted to stay. No one would question my decision not to participate in such a rigorous event during record-setting heat.
Even I was concerned about the heat, especially at my age (67) and weight (200+ on a 5 foot 1 inch frame). I grew up in Arizona where we were painfully aware of the dangers of dehydration and heat stroke.
Before I left South Carolina, I called Mitchel and we discussed the situation. Mitchel assured me that he would help me monitor myself, ensuring I was hydrated and encouraging me while keeping me safe. So bright and early on Monday, May 27, 2019, I embarked on my first Murph.
During the pre-event briefing , Mitchel told us the last person to complete the event would be greeted by the group with confetti and cheering. I remember thinking that would be fun, since I knew that person was probably going to be me.
So I started run/walking the first mile using the strategy that Mitchel and I had planned. And it was HOT!
My strategy was to run/walk the first mile, then complete sets of five ring rows, ten hand-release push-ups and fifteen air squats. After completing the first mile, I went to work, parking
myself in front of the big orange box fan (this was before we had the ceiling fans) for the push-ups and squats. As anticipated, the first few sets were relatively easy, but with the heat, the workout became difficult quickly. With the encouragement of my Strongside family, I kept pushing, slowly, hydrating and with Mitchel checking to assure I was okay. After ten sets, (many people had completed the full Murph at this point), Mitchel came to me and we decided it was time for me to close this portion out and move on to the last mile.
The last mile of that Murph was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. Adam Feder walked the entire mile with me, giving me water and Gatorade every few yards when I stopped to stretch. My cardiac status was fine but my calf and thigh muscles were so tight every step was painful and my back would tighten up every few yards. I have no idea how long that last mile took but I know it was a long time. Mitchel and Kim came and checked on us and walked the last part with Adam and I. They all encouraged me to go on, that I could do it.
It’s difficult to express my emotions when we came around the corner for the last leg of the run and all the Murph participants were lined up waiting to greet us. I had committed to run the last 50 meters no matter what, so when we hit the 50 meter mark, I took Mitchel and Adam’s hands and we ran in together, with the confetti flying and everyone hugging me and congratulating me. The memory of those moments are among the most cherished of my life.
January 2020, a brand, new year with new goals and plans. Then Covid hit and changed our lives in ways we never anticipated.
Mitchel was the only person I saw in person during my Covid isolation, as I transitioned to work from home. I continued to train (safely) and we talked about how Murph 2020 might work in light of the rules around social distancing. When Mitchel posted the heats, the conversation with Adam was not, “Are you doing Murph”, but, “for which heat are we signing up”.
On Monday, May 25, 2020, I completed my second Murph. It was another inspirational day, with so much love and support from my Strongside family. I was able to reconnect with friends that I had missed so much during Covid isolation. And I made awesome new friends, one of those being Stephen, one of Strongside’s younger members. Participating in the same heat with Stephen, us being the oldest and youngest members to participate in the 2020 Strongside Murph, added to the meaning of the celebration that is a Strongside event.
Adam Feder accompanied me on my last mile, as is our tradition Ashley Reuda joined us, and we had a more pleasant and faster last mile than in 2019. The three of us joined hands and ran the last 50 meters together. Once again, I was surrounded by my loving Strongside family as I completed my Murph.
So, going forward, it’s not a question of if I’m participating in the Strongside Murph. The question is which heat am in and who is going to push through it with me. (Adam, you’re already booked for Monday, May 31,2021!)
- Deb Mastin