If your idea of a workout consists, as mine did, of a pleasant run and a few sit-ups, your first CrossFit session isn’t just a shock—it’s like being tased.
“After an hour and a half—which was the maximum time I’d trained—my body said, ‘You know, this is about it,’” Clevenger told me. She finished with her second-slowest Olympic-length-triathlon time in 23 years. “I agree that if you do CFE to the letter you can complete an Ironman,” Clevenger said. But she called it a recipe to “complete, not compete.”
Others haven’t been so measured in their criticism. On running discussion boards, MacKenzie has been called a “f**king joker” and his philosophy a “crock of shit.”
“CrossFit ain’t going to keep you in the saddle for 6 hours,” Will132 wrote on Slowtwitch.com, in a typical blast. On LetsRun.com, a commenter wrote: “It’s not science, it’s marketing.”
“CrossFit all you want, people,” another poster said. “But if you want to be a good runner, you need to get out and fricking run.”
MacKenzie laughs it off—mostly. “I get it. My personality may not rub right with a lot of people,” he tells me over dinner one night in Boulder. “But to attack me for trying to help somebody? Dude, that has been my only goal with everything I’ve done.”
“We run plenty,” he adds as he gets up to leave. “We run just enough.”
THE LAST CHANCE MARATHON is a 200-entrant race held New Year’s Eve morning on the woodsy trails of Bellingham, Washington. It’s so casual that the starting line is a crosswalk. Race day doesn’t dawn so much as leak across the horizon—cold, with dishrag skies. Doubts roll across my mind like the clouds, but I try to stay positive. Remember, I tell myself, after three months on CFE’s diet of sprints and deadlifts, you’re leaner, stronger, and faster than you’ve ever been.
The organizers said the course had a few little hills. They lied. It’s a muddy roller coaster in spots, with about 700 feet of vertical gain—little heartbreaks along the course. My goal of a 3:20 marathon goes out the window. I decide to relax and see where the training takes me.