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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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. Β 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…Β 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. πŸ™‚

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 Β you Joe & Larry for all the support. I appreciated it all even if I was swearing like a sailor. πŸ™‚

Happy birthday Jonathan! I did Fran for you. πŸ™‚

Squat Cleans Are Not My Fave

After yesterday’s 250 reps, I was hoping for something a bit more “enjoyable” as far as the day’s WOD. Apparently I should get used to disappointment this week.

Coach Larry was finishing up today’s WOD when I got there and looking pretty miserable, but chugging through it. But before 8:30 we had a handful of folks… Melissa and her daughter, Lara, and Sarah. We began with a 400m jog and came back in for a little three round warm-up of:

  • 10 med-ball cleans (20/14#)
  • 10 push-ups
  • 10 banded good mornings

ring-dipWith that out of the way, we went through a squat clean refresher and some ring dip essentials.

Today’s workout was a doozy:

  • 27-21-15-9 reps for time
  • squat cleans
  • ring dips
  • Rx/Level II weight – 95/65#, Level I weight – 55/35#
  • Ring dips, leg-assisted ring dips, and push-ups

Quite honestly I knew I was in trouble even during our squat clean warm-up. Between knees and hips it was going to be a challenge to get through 72 of them. But it turned out to be a combination of shoulders and low back that really slowed me down. It took nearly 9 minutes to get through the first round with a combination of actual ring dips and “leg-assisted” ones.

By the time I got through the round of 21 squat cleans, I decided I’d just do push-ups instead of ring dips. But even so, it took me 23:48 to get through the whole thing.


Let me qualify a few things for this one though… I really wanted to quit. My head already knew what my body would figure out pretty quickly – squat cleans still suck. And honestly it wasn’t the weight. I would have struggled with an empty bar just as much as I did the 95# bar.

My cleans looked like crap. Many followed this pattern – straight leg, bend down, snag bar, clean and drop into a squat, then drop it. It’s no wonder my back was bugging me. And if I had done all the ring dips I’d still have been going at least another 10 minutes. The few ring dips I did do were not pretty.


There’s something about combination push and pull workouts. Squat cleans were a pull. Ring dips were a push. And neither movement worked well. It was like my burpees yesterday. Every one looked uglier than the one before.

Meanwhile I watched Lara and Sarah essentially drop far enough and fast enough into their squat that their butts might as well have hit the floor. Ass to grass. They did great.

It was not a good workout for me. I nearly quit at least three times. The door was open. I could have just walked out. Instead I wandered, shook it out, and tried to reset. I never openly said “I quit,” but damn I came close.

Would it have been any different if it was just 21-15-9 instead of 27-21-15-9? I don’t know. That extra round was definitely a mental game.

Larry was always circling, giving encouragement. And I heard some of the other nice folks in the class encouraging me as well. So thank you to all of you. It did help.

Great work folks! Y’all killed it.

Drop and Give me 50! 50! 50! 50! and 50 more!

Forgive me community, it’s been four days since my last workout… (I don’t know why but I always feel like I need to confess such things when it’s been a few days.) Soccer season is back with a vengeance and my weekends are not my own any more. Sigh.

Even so, it’s Monday and that means it’s time to get back to the box. Last time I was in was Thursday. I don’t usually get in on Fridays and this past weekend we were on soccer fields at the Air Force Academy both days, so that brings us back to Monday. Let’s get moving again, shall we?

garfield-mondayI felt ok this morning. Stiff, but not bad. Even so, after looking at the workout last night I knew I was going to get my butt kicked. I knew I should tape my knees but I ran into some computer issues with my work system that I had to resolve, so ran out of time. Knee sleeves in hand, I headed in to face the music.

Coach Larry was recovering from doing the workout himself as we came in. And we had a fun crew for him today — me, Lara, John, Dee, Kelli & Trey, along with Michael & Anthony.

We started with some mobility. I used the time with a foam roller to try and get my back and shoulders moving again. And then we did either a 400m run, 500m row, or 2 minutes on the bike. Of course I chose to row. πŸ™‚

When that was done, we grabbed a light kettle bell (35# for me) and did a little three round warm-up:

  • 10 push-ups
  • 10 Russian kettlebell swings (just to eye level)
  • 10 kipping swings on the rig

box-jump-failFrom there we took a look at the workout itself:

  • 50 box jumps
  • 50 kettlebell swings
  • 50 knees-to-elbows
  • 50 wall-ball shots
  • 50 burpees
  • Rx – 30/24″ box, 70/53# KB, 30/20# wall ball
  • Level II – 24/20″ box, 53/35# KB, 20/14# wall ball
  • Level I – reduce to 30 reps for each movement, 20/16″ box, 35/25# KB, 14/10# wall ball

Our goal? Less than 25 minutes.

My approach was simple… a modified Level II:

  • 20″ step-ups
  • 53# kettle bell swings
  • knees-to-elbows, of which some were just knee raises but I did ok
  • 20# wall balls
  • normal burpees (though I usually don’t stand up all the way and tend to just hop off the ground)

72504741We were able to break it up into as many as 4 rounds, so I used this progression:

  • 20 reps
  • 10 reps
  • 10 reps
  • 10 reps

I was going to do 20/15/15 but after doing 20 burpees decided that was a poor decision. πŸ™‚ Really the burpees were the worst part of this whole thing for me, as expected.

I finished in 22:20, which was under the 25 minute time cap, so I’ll take it. πŸ™‚ Everybody did great. John was doing it Rx with the 30″ box jumps and 70# kettle bell like a beast. Other than John though I think we all scaled somehow. And the boys did awesome to get through the 30 rep version I think. They were FAST.

So not bad for the first workout of the week! Great work everybody! And thanks for the encouragement Larry!

Hanging 10 or 20

It’s rare these days to get two strength workouts that fall on days that I can go play at the box. Well, this week the stars seem to have aligned. Tuesday was a squat day. Today is all about hangs and push jerks. Huzzah!

AJ and Ev went to the 8:30 class today and our youngest managed to hang clean 100#. Dang impressive. So I knew I had to tackle today to beat her. πŸ™‚

January 21, 2016 at 0141PM (1)I arrived for the noon workout to find Drea and Logan finishing it up. And it was me at Kelsi for the noon class with Drea. We started with a nice little 400m jog, then 25 medicine ball cleans (20#), and 25 push presses with an empty barbell (45#). And after some skill work with cleans, snatches, and jerks, we got going.

Today’s workout was pretty easy…

  • 5×1 Hang Power Clean
  • 5×1 Hang Power Snatch
  • 5×1 Push Jerk

Go heavy and try for a new 1RM.

My old PRs for these are:

  • 195# (clean back in 2015))
  • 175# (clean & jerk back in 2014)
  • 185# (push press earlier this year)
  • 95# (hang power snatch from back in 2014)
  • 165# (push jerk in 2016)

Kelsi and I started working through the movements, doing a lift about every 2 minutes.

power-clean-illustrationHang Power Clean

  • 135 x1 (warm-up)
  • 145 x1 (warm-up)
  • 155 x1 (warm-up)
  • 165 x1
  • 175 x1
  • 185 (fail)
  • 180 (fail)
  • 175# x1

Hang Power Snatch

  • 95 x1 (warm-up)
  • 105 x1
  • 115 x1
  • 125 x1
  • 135 (fail)
  • 130 x1

jerk-clipart-olympic-weightlifting-clean-jerk-hiPush Jerk (push, not split)

  • 95 x1 (warm-up)
  • 115 x1 (warm-up)
  • 135 x1 (warm-up)
  • 155 x1
  • 165 x1
  • 175 x1
  • 185 x1

So the last hang power snatch I had was September 2014 at 95#, so 130# is a 35# PR.

The last push jerk PR I had was November 2016 at 165#, so 185# is a 20# PR.

And I don’t have a hang power clean PR, but 175# is right in line with what I did at Reagan’s competition a few weeks ago.

I’m staying consistent and getting a little stronger in different ways.Β Was hoping for a bit more, but I’ll take it. I really need to figure out how to get out of my own head.

Was a fun day though. Thanks Drea and great work Kelsi!

Definitely not Diddly Squats

Strength day! After yesterday’s running WOD, I was ready to lift something heavy.

I arrived early for the 9:30 class with AJ and the two of us hung out and chatted with folks while they finished up. It was good to see Jonathan & Sarah, Brianne, Caleb, Nic, Todd, and Jake! Plus there were a few others at 9:30 with Coach Drea — Lyle & Elyse, Brent, Karen, and Mia joined us.

kettlebell-swingWe started with a little three round warm-up:

  • 15 kettle bell swings (was supposed to be light, but I decided to use a 53#)
  • 100m run
  • Walking lunges

And after a brief refresher with an empty barbell, we were off to find a rack, warm up a bit, and get started. There were three parts of today:

  • 5×1 Overhead Squats
  • 5×1 Front Squats
  • 5×1 Back squats

I am always a little gun shy on these days with mixed movements, but gave it a shot. πŸ™‚

Overhead-squat-1First was the OHS. My old 1RM was 135#. This has traditionally been one of those movements that I struggle with. When I started 4 years ago I was barely able to use a PVC pipe because my shoulders were so out of shape. And I’ve been stuck at 135# since Fall 2015. So I was hopeful I might be able to improve slightly.

  • 95# warm-up (x2)
  • 105# x1
  • 115# x1
  • 125# x1
  • 135# x1 (old 1RM)
  • 145# x1 (new 1RM)

I’ll take a 10# PR. πŸ™‚

Meanwhile my 12 year old daughter AJ managed to hit 55#, which was awesome. She was working with Mia and the two of them did amazing.

front_squatSecond we did Front Squats. I’ve been stuck at 245# here for a while and wasn’t sure I was going to move beyond that. (Spoiler: I didn’t.)

  • 225# x1
  • 235# x1
  • 245# x1
  • 255# BAIL
  • No 5th

Matching my old 1RM of 245# is nothing to sneeze at, so I’ll happily stay there.

AJ managed to hit 125#, which is pretty much body weight for her.

And lastly we did Back Squats. This is another movement I’ve been stuck for a while but hit 315# back in January.

  • 225# x1
  • 245# x1
  • 275# x1
  • 295# BAIL (left knee felt funny)
  • No 5th

Didn’t even get close to my 1RM. But as the knee wobbled I didn’t want to push.

get-out-of-my-brainMeanwhile, AJ hit 155#, which is a 25# PR over the 130# she set TWO WEEKS AGO… Have I mentioned that my girls are just like their mom and beasts? πŸ™‚

So I really need to figure out how to get past this problem I’ve developed with bailing or failing and stopping cold. Success isn’t going to happen overnight and not without toil and work.

If anybody has any ideas on how to shake loose that little mental quirk, I’m open to suggestions. πŸ™‚

Great work 9:30 (and 8:30) classes. Thanks Drea!

Not a Runner, But I Did Ok

Since I was in the 7th grade and had PE class in junior high, I’ve hated running. When I was in the 8th and 9th grades, I played basketball (poorly) and learned to hate sprinting. So to say that I dislike running would be an understatement even now 30+ years later.

So imagine my surprise when I looked at the workout for today — last night, mind you — and heard myself say that despite the fact that it was running I was going to go. Yeah, the words came out of my mouth and I couldn’t believe it. And then this morning when my wife asked if I was still planning on going, I said yes. Again, shock set in at what I was saying.

7TaonKRbcAfter dropping Mickey at soccer practice this morning, I headed into CrossFit Continuum and I think I was still stunned that I found myself walking in. I even told Drea that as I walked in.

Thankfully I wasn’t alone in the 9:30 class. Poor John was a lone gunman in his class at 8:30 and did a great job of pushing through. We had 9 people total at 9:30. Lisa & Nick, Elyse, Brent, Karen, Jordan, Austen, and Krystal were there with me to tough our way through this one.

We did a long warm-up starting with some ankle mobility and a bit of rowing or running, then we did the back and forth warm-up in the box with moving on tip-toes, the sides of our feet, doing knee tucks, lunges, hops, and other crazy things. It was entertaining. (It’s called the Hinshaw Warm-up if you’re interested.)

But eventually we ended up outside to do this lovely metcon for time…

  • Rx/Level II
  • 8 rounds of:
  • Run 400 meters
  • Rest 90 seconds
  • Post total time not including eighth rest.
  • (For Level I it’s only 5 rounds, post total time not including 5th rest)

silly-walkSo how’d I do?

  • 1:45
  • 2:02
  • 2:35
  • 2:20
  • 2:45
  • Total with rests: 18:15
  • Average: 2:17

I ran the first one all the way. The second one I only walked a little. The last three I walked more — almost 200m in the last round. And my calves were and ankles, not knees, were starting to complain, so I decided to stop at 5 which is what I told Drea when I walked in this morning.

Honestly I’m happy with that. If I could do that consistently, I’d run under a 10 minute mile. And the fact that my knees weren’t screaming at me at the end was a miracle. (The ankle is a new thing that may actually be a thyroid symptom funny enough, which I’m in the process of working through with my doc at the moment.)

Considering I was thinking that they would all be like that last round (close to 3 minutes), I’m really happy. Who knew?

Of course, we had the fastest time of the day in our class as well — with Jordan. He did one of his 400m laps in a bit over a minute and finished the whole thing in 20:56. Incredible speed and consistency. So he was the rabbit and I was the tortoise. πŸ™‚

Great work everybody! I’m ready for a nap!

Trying some new Advocare today

So just as a follow-up to today’s workout, we got some samples of the new Advocare FIT Line the other day from our friend Amy (a local Advocare Rep). We enjoy quite a few Advocare products (mostly Spark and Rehydrate, with a few other things like Biotune). So why not give FIT a try?

Essentially the FIT line gives you a pre-workout drink, a during-workout drink, and a post-workout drink. Plus some protein you can do any day. More of a complete regimen for your supplementation needs if you want to look at it that way.


From the Advocare Website


One of the things we’ve not really enjoyed is the flavor of some of the post-workout protein supplements from Advocare. After using Progenex RecoveryΒ for a long time (we like Loco Mocha and Chocolate Covered Banana), the flavor of the Advocare stuff is underwhelming. Nothing against it’s effectiveness, but if I’m going to use a product it either has to have zero taste and great effects or great taste and great effects.

So… for my FIT test today… Um, not a fan.

The PRE stuff tastes a bit like an expired Life Saver. The INTRA stuff tasted like watered down Limeade Spark (REALLY watered down). And the POST stuff tasted a bit like chocolate flavored chalk.

To say the least, it’s not my thing. Maybe other people can deal with the flavors, but I won’t be subjecting myself to them again.

I haven’t tried the PROTEIN shake yet, which Amy said tasted really good. But after three swings and misses with the other three products, I’m not holding my breath.

As for the effectiveness of the FIT line… I don’t know. I feel pretty good after a decent workout. But it wasn’t one of those 45 minute workouts that we sometimes get on Saturdays, so that might have been a better test.

In another post I’ll try and pull together my whole supplementation mix, which now includes some stuff from Red H Nutrition, Advocare, Ascent Protein, and Progenex.Β And in my 40s, I’m not looking to add more to my mix unless it fills a need. The latest two things are Super Flexy and Hibernate from Red H, which have helped me recover faster from knee pain and sleep a little better.

So to anyone who uses FIT and doesn’t mind the taste, more power to you. πŸ™‚

A site about my crossfit journey…