Becoming An Athlete

This is the second part of Brian Edwards’ story about setting out on a journey to become a career firefighter. In the first article, Brian talked about starting his diet after realizing he had to become “firefighter fit.” Click here to view the first article, Becoming Firefighter Fit.

This is Brian’s story:

After I accepted the job, I entered the academy weighing in around 230lbs. While in recruit school, I faced many ups and downs. One of my biggest challenges was my endurance. Strength was not a problem for me, but doing multiple reps seemed to really take it out of me. I was able to improve my physical fitness test scores every two weeks, and by the end of recruit school I was down to 220lbs. I had also cut nearly 5 minutes off of my 1 ½ mile run.

My first assignment was to Fire Station 611 in the Sterling Park section of Loudoun County. It was a busy engine and truck company house. I was assigned to the Engine for my first 4 months on the job. One task I had to be capable of to ride the Truck was to be able to get all the ladders off and throw them by myself. Our Truck Companies carry truss beam 28’ and 35’ ladders, and one 3 section 40’ ladder. I had put some weight back on, but I was adding muscle weight at this point. While training to transfer to the Truck, I had heard about the Crossfit style of workouts. I had seemed to keep putting it off, but I figured it was time to give it a shot to try to accomplish this goal. In time, my training and hard work had paid off and I was able to transfer over to the Truck Company. My next goal seemed to still be out of my reach and that was to make a run in the Scott Combat Challenge.

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In September 2011, I was finally able to muster up enough courage to head off to a free Crossfit class at Crossfit Reston, a local gym. I had put it off for some long time, but I decided to raise my head up and hit it with full force. The first few weeks were really rough, but once I made it through the “Rookie” pains, I was well on my way to a better future.

While I continued my training, I had read a post on Firehouse.com about a 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb in Washington DC. The article talked about how the event was to support the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. As soon as I saw the article, I knew this would be my first true athletic event, 110 flights of stairs in full gear with an air pack. With the help of the coaches at Crossfit Reston and my crew at work, I was able to complete the climb. It was a very emotional event for me and kept me focused. My first 5K would be run a Muck 5K Mud Run. Over the next 18 months, I ran many more 5K’s, The Spartan Race 8K, several more 9/11 Memorial Stair Climbs, and Crossfit events. All of these events and strenuous training prepared me to accomplish my ultimate goal of competing in the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge.

Check back next Tuesday for the last installment of Brian’s story.