Saturday, June 6, 2009

D-Day Salute

Today is the 65th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion, or D-Day. On that day, Allied Forces stormed the beaches at Normandy, France to begin the assault that would eventually win World War II in Europe. The price paid was high, as evidenced by the rows of crosses in cemeteries across France.
To commemorate D-Day, many RKCs decided to do a tribute workout -- 200 snatches, interspersed with 400 meters of running. Not a difficult workout, but challenging enough, while giving you the opportunity to think about the sacrifices made on that late spring day.
I wasn't alive during World War II. My parents were just 4 and 2 years old in 1944, but I still owe a great deal to those men who fought for our freedom. (And lest we forget, those who have fought for our freedom ever since, including those in harm's way today.)
I had originally hoped to have a group of our students with me, but kids' schedules and an anniversary negated that. So I set out on my own, with my newest kettlebell student (and long time client), Whit to accompany me on the running portion of the workout.
The first 50 snatches were easy, as easy as 50 snatches can be. And the run was a nice recovery. We talked about her training plans for the summer before she heads back to school in August. We talked about my kids, who are her age, and how they are moving forward with their lives. We also talked about World War II -- an interesting conversation between two different generations who learned about it in history books.
The next set of snatches was a little slower. The callouses on my hands were pinching, as I left my chalk in the car. I suffered through it, and we took off for our second 400 meter run. Here we focused on how tough it was for those soldiers 65 years ago, and what we were doing was really nothing compared to their suffering. I think it gave both of us a sense of reality -- no matter how bad you hurt, someone hurts more.
The third set of snatches tested that theory. My callouses started to rip --and blood was seeping from my hands. (This week was a particularly high volume snatch week, and I was paying the price.) Even though each snatch was painful, I got through it knowing that veterans would laugh at the amount of pain I was feeling. After all, it really was nothing.
The last set was easy. I knew that this was it, the end was near -- a perk those soldiers didn't have on that beachhead 65 years ago.
During the last quarter mile, I asked Whit if she had another mile in her. She said she didn't think so, but she would try anyway. (I failed to mention that she had taken my kettlebell class earlier that morning.)
During the last mile, we talked perseverance, and doing what is necessary to achieve your goals. The same thing that got many through Normandy. Many did not make it, paying the ultimate price so we have the freedom to whine and complain about every little ache, pain, grocery line, traffic light, and airline delay.
I am grateful to all of those who have sacrificed for my freedom, not just on June 6, 1944, but in all battles. I am also thankful that I had the opportunity to reflect on that with the next generation of American for 32 minutes on a warm June Saturday in Ohio.
Somehow, my hands don't hurt that much anymore.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. We also had high hopes for the D-Day salute but it turned out to be me, Jen, our 5 year old son and a friend.

    I spent a lot of time pondering what this session would mean. I even had one Twitter friend contact me to let me know his Dad had been on the beach in Normandy 65 years ago and to thank me for recognizing these not forgotten heros. I asked him to "thank" his dad for me.

    I didn't run the 400 meters. I loaded my special Kettleback backpack and power walked the 400 meters. As hard as I could fully loaded. Kinda cool. Still it was active recovery.

    The last set of 50 snatches was the easiest as the end was near.

    I found the 3rd set to be the most challenging. Hands held up fine and I felt good recognizing such a great generation.