My first Murph: Fear, Emotion and Victory

Written by Sandy Morrow
Reviewed by Ioannis Nikitidis
Women working out.

Pure excitement consumed me as my husband and I booked our family vacation to San Diego for the end of May into/ June.  Our youngest was turning 5, we were going to Disneyland and my best friend, who I hadn’t seen in over a year, lives there. How could I NOT be on cloud 9?!

But then I remembered something… and now I was a nervous wreck sitting on top of that big fluffy cloud.


Let me take a step back and introduce myself. My name is Sandy Morrow. I’m a 31 year young wife and a mother of two beautiful girls from Indiana. I am a certified personal trainer at an all women’s PT studio in my hometown of Lafayette and a high school cheerleading coach.

My passion is fitness as well as health & wellness in all aspects of life. Helping others find their love for a healthy lifestyle and digging deep for that self love and acceptance is what makes me happy. I believe in leading by example and putting all the work and dedication that I’m asking of my clients to do themselves into action firsthand myself. I want their trust and for them to say “if she can do it, then so can I!”. Well,I’d also like them to say, “my trainer is a bad@%*!”. HA!

I’m currently in prep for my first ever NPC competition coming up this September. Prep takes heart, consistency and a lot of hard work. With all that said, lets click that fast forward button and get back to that crazy cloud I was sitting on…

Enter: Murph

“Agghhh!!”. Yep, those were my thoughts as I began to think about being on prep while on vacation. How will I get my meals in and keep them on track? Where will I workout? One week is huge in this process, I can’t mess this up!

I immediately turned to my best friend for help. She calmed me down and promised there was no need to worry, when I arrived we would go to her gym. She then tells me, with giddiness in her voice I must add, “you are going to do the Memorial Day Murph with me at my Cross Fit Box!”.

My thinking was all over the place in that moment. What’s a Murph? Why a box? I was clearly a newbie to the world of CrossFit and the thought of it was slightly intimidating. Okay, fine…EXTREMELY intimidating.

But being me, I gladly accepted and told her how excited I was to try this CrossFit thing out, after all I love a good challenge!

I went online and read about Murph as soon as I had the chance.

One mile run…”Okay, I’ve run 26.2 at once, piece of cake!”

100 pull-ups…”umm, excuse me?!”

300 squats…”Thank goodness! My upper body will need a break at this point. 300 though?”

One mile run…”HA! You think my legs are going to allow this after 300 squats?!”

Then I came across the “why” behind the workout. Navy Lt. Michael Murphy who at the young age of 29 made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during a fierce gun battle with the enemy. He was determined to help his team to safety and for his selfless actions, he is a hero to many. Murphy was killed in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005. The above-mentioned workout was one of his favorites. The exact training is the following:

  • 1 mile Run
  • 100 Pull-Ups
  • 200 Push-Ups
  • 300 Air Squats
  • 1 mile Run

The partition of the Pull-Ups, Push-Ups, and Squats can be done as needed, but you have to start and finnish the “Murph” with the 1 mile Run.

This hit home for me because my younger brother served our country in Afghanistan as well. Thankfully, he is home with us now, but what an emotional time it was away from him.

My feelings changed instantly, I WILL do this! I still, of course, had my doubts because again I had never done CrossFit and this seemed like an intense WOD to make my first. Now, I just had more fire lit under me to do this not for me but for THEM!

A Memorial Day to remember

We made it to San Diego & Memorial Day was upon us.

I grabbed my water, had my breakfast and out the door I went to meet Christa and her sister.

My nerves were flying high!  I downed some pre-workout and we got to some foam rolling. We watched the session before ours as we finished our stretches. Wow! I was impressed with what I saw. “Go them!,” I thought.

Then it was our turn. We set up our area so that my best friend and I faced one another for our exercises.

My first Murph: Fear, emotion and victory 2

“Ready, Set, GO!”, shouted the owner.

The run began and off we went.  We paced ourselves nice and easy knowing what was waiting for us upon our return.  I felt good…1 mile down! We split our reps into 10 rounds and tallied our completed rounds with chalk as we went. One, two, three…ten, eleven, twelve rounds done.

Throughout the gym no one was talking, just hard at work. The music kept us going (I love that new JT song!) but it was my mind that was the loudest.

Whilst researching Murph in the days leading up to this moment, I’d come across an article on this very site called “The 5 Defining Moments of Murph”. It couldn’t have been more accurate—and I’d officially hit stage 4 – the humbling…

As my body began to tire out, I began to remind myself of a few things: “You didn’t think you could do this but look at you now!” “Lt. Michael Murphy.” “All who have made that ultimate sacrifice.” “Those who have fought and currently fighting for our freedom.” “Look at your best friend. She’s incredible!” “Inspire your daughters.” Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen rounds done.

“Do NOT stop Sandy!”. Sixteen, seventeen, eighteen. “Two more tally marks. You are strong!”. Twenty!

I wanted to cry. Happy tears. Proud tears. I had more energy in that very moment than I had stepping into that place.

I grabbed a drink, Christa finished her rounds and we set off on that last mile together.  We were no longer running with our legs but with our hearts.

We motivated and encouraged one another through every stride we made. We crossed the finish line together!

38:47. We did it!!

I took some deep breaths and just felt happy to be alive.

Although “Murph” is an endurance-type workout, according to Crossfit experts, it should be performed in less than an hour. Otherwise, if it takes longer  to complete, you are not training in the desired intensity and for sure you will not get the best possible results. What an emotional and gratifying experience! The camaraderie among every one present was priceless. I felt unstoppable, like the world was mine for the taking. We got some pictures to document the victory and left feeling incredible. Oh and every push-up was on my toes.  Success!!

The rest of our vacation was beautiful.  I may have had a hard time getting out of bed the next few days, but it was worth every last sore muscle. Of course, it is expected that what follows your first “Murph” is the Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which is the pain and stiffness that you feel in your muscles 1-2 days after an unaccustomed or strenuous exercise. As I sit here writing this on the plane back to Indiana, I am so thankful Christa introduced me to the world of CrossFit. There’s no one else I would have wanted by my side during that experience.

We even made plans to complete Murph together again next year with the goal of bettering our times. I know what Murph is all about now and couldn’t be more excited than I am to tackle it once again. Learning the why behind this nationally recognized WOD (look I used a Cross Fit term – I am so proud of myself!) was enough to keep me returning year after year.

I can’t wait to get home and tell my family, friends and clients about this feat, the story of Lt Murphy and hopefully spark an interest in them for the event in the years to come. I’m extremely grateful for my health, the heroes we are blessed with as a nation and great friends. What a perfect vacation!

My first Murph: Fear, emotion and victory 1