By Scott Prater
1st Lt. Gary Goff, 3rd Space Operations Squadron, heaved his chin over the bar for a fifth time, landed on his feet, dropped to the floor and pounded out 10 push-ups. Instantly upon finishing, he jumped back up and performed 15 free squats.
He had time for just a few quick breaths when Schriever Sports Director Ed Molloy shouted “GO,” signaling Lieutenant Goff to jump back up on the pull-up bar.
No, this isn’t a scene from Officer Training School — Lieutenant Goff wasn’t working off demerits, or suffering through some strange hazing ritual Dec. 11 — he was competing in “The Murph,” the second annual fitness challenge hosted by Schriever’s Fitness Center.
Named in honor of Lt. Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL who was killed in action June 28, 2005 in Afghanistan, “The Murph” challenges competitors to complete a one-mile run, perform 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 free squats, then finish with another one-mile run.
Lieutenant Murphy invented the workout, which he called “Body Armor,” and performed the routine regularly while wearing a 20-pound vest.
Schriever’s athletes weren’t required to wear the heavy vest, but the competition proved punishing nonetheless.
“This workout hurts,” said Brenda Lewis, the event’s only female competitor. “On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s a nine plus.”
Even so, this year’s event must not have hurt as much as last year’s because Ms. Lewis cut more than 11 minutes off of her time, finishing in 42 minutes flat, good for fourth place among 14 competitors.
“The difference was I didn’t go out crazy at the start,” she said. “Last year, my training partner and I had a plan and it blew up at the start because we went out too fast. This time I told myself I was going to go steady and take short breaks in between sets. And I was able to maintain my pace all the way through.”
Of course, having a year to train for the event couldn’t have hurt either.
“I was doing the P90x workout, which involves many similar exercises,” she said. “I’ve seen really good results, so I’ve been doing it pretty much nonstop since February. Doing 100 pull-ups is still hard, but nowhere near like last year.”
Lieutenant Goff also cut considerable time off of his performance from a year ago. With a time of 31:17, he won the event, taking nearly four minutes off his 2009 mark.
Like, Ms. Lewis, Lieutenant Goff said a strategy change made the biggest difference.
“I cut the number of repetitions I did for each set,” he said. “Last year I was doing seven pull-ups, 14 push-ups and 21 squats; this year I did 5, 10 and 15. Doing smaller reps gives you more energy and allows you to be more conscious of time. And if you’re not conscious of time, you tend to take longer breaks. I didn’t even look at the clock. I just asked my timer (Mr. Molloy) to say ‘GO’ every 45 seconds.”
Lieutenant Goff made a goal of finishing under 34 minutes, and attributes a year of CrossFit training for helping him raise his fitness level.
“CrossFit is very heavy on pull-ups and cardio work, so it fits right into this program,” he said. “But I think just completing the Murph is impressive,” he said. “It’s a challenging fitness event, and anybody who completes it under an hour has earned quite an accomplishment.”
The following are “The Murph” competitors and their individual times:
1st Gary Goff — 31:17
2nd Rafael Galvez — 34:44
3rd Corey Marion — 37:48
4th Brenda Lewis — 42:00
5th Justin Weed — 42:50
6th Jeremy Brown — 44:38
7th AJ Berger — 45:25
8th Mike Kloenne — 50:52
9th Carlos Morales — 52:07
10th Chad Bowman — 55:30
11th Adam Graf — 56:13
12th Dax Minary — 56:53
13th Mark McColloch — 59:58