How Invictus Helped My Running
Written by Invictus Member Melissa Vasel

I wanted to take a minute to share an athletic accomplishment that I truly believe came about as a result of being a part of the Invictus community.

I ran the Boston Marathon this past April, and unexpectedly PRd with a time of 3:27. My original plan was to run it as a long run and go for a new PR at Ojai at the end of May. After PRing in Boston, my running coach told me I had zero chance of PRing at Ojai, and that I should just switch to the half.

Well, I went on to PR at Ojai with a time of 3:20! Not the most amazing time, but a pretty significant PR just 6 weeks after running Boston and battling a foot injury I am about to get operated on.

But what really shocked me is that one week after Ojai, I ran the San Diego half marathon and ran a 1:34:50 – a 3 minute PR for my half time. Even I was stunned when I crossed the finish line, as I had to consciously hold back during the race, afraid that the fatigue of a marathon six days prior would cause the wheels to fall off.

I was amazed how I was able to pull this off, and thought about why and how I did it.  I really feel that Invictus played a significant part, particularly with the mental aspect. Invictus has become a place where I have rediscovered the intense pain (and joy) of pushing myself athletically, that I haven’t experienced since college athletics.

I often get asked by running friends if CrossFit helps my running. I have always said it doesn’t hurt it. Now I would say I don’t know about CrossFit in general, but Invictus has definitely helped. This house you have built is filled with inspiring athletes from beginners trying their absolute best, to astonishing CrossFit Games athletes. The coaches and programming have steadily proven to me in the last 2+ years that I am still capable of growing as an athlete, and getting faster and stronger. I couldn’t ask for more.

Coach’s Note by Nuno Costa

The following is a great example of what it means to re-define what is possible.  Melissa has been a member of Invictus for more than two years now, and while she has continued to attend our group classes regularly, I know that running has always been a top priority of hers and something she did not want to lose as she continues to get fitter through CrossFit.

There were a couple of things that really stood out to me as a coach as I read her email:

As a coach, you never want to limit your athletes capabilities – telling an athlete they have zero chance of PRing in a race is probably not the best way to motivate someone.  In this scenario Melissa took that as fuel and turned out a personal best week after week.

After setting a personal best in Boston with a time of 3:27, its pretty incredible that she was able to take 7 minutes off her time in the race six weeks later.  Thats a significant improvement over a short time period. When you look at what she was able to accomplish – any of the three race times are pretty incredible, and to know she did them in the span of seven weeks makes it even more astonishing.

Melissa makes clear that we can continue to get better physically and mentally, continue to push ourselves to new limits and redefine what fitness means.  I couldn’t be more proud of Melissa for all her hard work. The PRs are well-deserved – you earned them Melissa!