Fran with a Capital Eff

Some days I wonder what the heck is going through my brain. And other days I wonder what’s going on with my body. Today I think it was the latter.

fran4letter_thumbFran is one of the “benchmarks” of crossfit that shows up every now and then. You’ll even see people who wear shirts that say “For a good time, call Fran — 21-15-9.”

I can truthfully say that I’ve never had a good time with Fran in the 4 years I’ve known this workout. And later in this post we’ll get to my weird history with it over the last few years.

Today I made it in for my 3rd workout of the week on a Wednesday. Usually I skip Weds. But today was my friend Jonathan’s birthday and he in his youthful insanity chose Fran as his birthday workout. Yes, he’s an insane friend and today’s his birthday. You read that right. 🙂

I didn’t make it this morning with my wife, who got to see Jonathan blow through this thing in 4 minutes Rx. He smoked it. Instead I arrived at noon to work with Coach Larry and Joe. Things were fine until Fran began. 🙂

We started with 4 rounds of some row-bowling… Joe and I traded off on the rower trying to get to 100m and stop. For every meter we went above or below, we had to do a burpee. Turned out neither one of us was very good at it to start out, but by the end we were down to only a burpee or two here or there. And Joe even hit 100 once, so huzzah! (We did probably 25-30 burpees all together I think.)

After that we did a couple of rounds of:

  • 10 PVC pass-thrus
  • 10 slow overhead squats

We moved on to PVC snatch balance, which was today’s skill/strength work. And then continued to warm up with an empty barbell. This is not one of our usual movements. We’ve done it before, but only rarely, so it was a bit strange starting the movement in a back rack and pushing into an overhead squat. But we got a bit better over time.


The strength portion of the day was 7 rounds of 1 snatch balance rep, with the goal of increasing weight every round.  I did:

  • 65#
  • 75#
  • 85#
  • 95#
  • 105# (ugly, Larry had me drop back)
  • 95#
  • 95#

I think Joe got to maybe the 145# or 155# mark, so he was doing awesome.

And then we got ready for Fran… Fran, if you don’t remember, is:

  • 21-15-9, Thrusters (95/65#) and pull-ups

franeinsteinI of course went with Rx, because why wouldn’t I torture myself with thrusters at 95# and real pull-ups?

It took me 15:33 to finish. What’s funny is I was pretty much done with the first set of 21 in the same amount of time it took Jonathan to finish the whole damn thing (4 minutes) and the rest was me trying very hard to breathe while swearing like a sailor. Joe did a modified version (recovering from some injuries) and finished in just under 6 minutes.

Really it wasn’t the thrusters. They were uncomfortable, but doable. The pull-ups simply gave up and I couldn’t breathe worth a damn.

Previous Years

So in previous years, I’ve attempted Fran at various points:

  • 9-NOV-2015 — 16:49 Rx
  • 30-NOV-2015 – 17:45 Rx

check-list-hiIn August 2016 we did a time-capped version. 7 minutes – go as fast as possible. Yeah, I didn’t do so hot.

  • 1-AUG-2016 – scaled w/7 minute time cap – DNF (75#, pull-ups, jumping pull-ups – got through 21-21-15 pull ups-8 jumping pull-ups)

And in September 2016 we did a “freestyle” version of Fran, which meant we could break up the movements into smaller sets. I actually did really well:

  • 26-SEP-2016 – 10:17 Rx Freestyle

So today’s Rx attempt was actually over a minute faster than the last time I did it straight through. Given that, I should be pleased with my performance. 🙂

The Aftermath

But I wasn’t pleased. I was in pain. And then my body really wanted to vomit while driving home in the car. It took 20 minutes after the workout for the shakes to start and another 20-30 minutes before they were done. I never did throw up, but damn I wasn’t sure a time or two.


So am I happy with my performance? Yes — I was fast for me. Larry and Joe both provided a TON of encouragement in the last couple of sets. And I have a shiny new PR for myself. Woot!

But I’m not happy that I pushed my body hard enough that hit had a mini revolt. I don’t know what that means beyond the fact that I really need to breathe.

That said — thank  you Joe & Larry for all the support. I appreciated it all even if I was swearing like a sailor. 🙂

Happy birthday Jonathan! I did Fran for you. 🙂


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