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Dear Phoenix- A CrossFit Open Experience by Emily H.


Dear Phoenix- A CrossFit Open Experience by Emily H.


2 rounds for time of:
100 double-unders (singles, scaled)
20 overhead squats
100 double-unders
12 ring muscle-ups (pull-ups, scaled)
100 double-unders
20 dumbbell snatches
100 double-unders
12 bar muscle-ups (pull-ups, scaled)

Women perform 80-lb. (35-lb., scaled) OHS, 35-lb. (20-lb, scaled)DB snatches

Time cap: 14 minutes


I always imagined her with gold and scarlet feathers, her wingspan like that of an eagle, a nimbus surrounding her. Her shimmering beak and purple legs and talons building the nest within which she will choose to smolder and rise from the ashes of the body she once was, into the newly acquired existence of her choosing.  And I’ve always wondered what drove the pheonix’ choice to combust into flames in the cyclical manner in which she did, but Greek mythology rarely accounts for intention; the actions explain the mysterious world not the other way around.

When I lost my grip and fell from the bar whilst attempting an unassisted pull up for the second time, my back hit the floor with a smack and the skin of my shoulders to my thighs burned from the impact.  And as I heard gasps and the lights twinkled in the corners of my vision, I looked around to confirm that this did indeed happen.  I laid in the silence of this place on the floor, which I built for myself, my body burning against the cold surface.  “I am ok,” I remember saying aloud a couple times, while my brain alerted that it was too soon say that. My heart beat to the rhythm of “you have to get up, you have to get up. Get up. Get up. Get up. Get up.” And I did. I stood up and stepped forward.  And with some guidance and compassion from the people around me, I jumped up to the bar again and worked until the time cap.

I spent a long time thinking about how to articulate what happened to me on Friday night.  I went down the list of famous fallers before stopping at phoenix, who I never imagined myself to be comparable. Icarus and his melting wax wings?  Nah. Humpty Dumpty? Nope.  They did not survive their falls. But, I did. I stood up.

Phoenix is perfect and not because I think of myself as a special individual who got up from falling in front of fifty or sixty some odd people and kept pushing forward, but because those fifty or sixty some odd people who were in it with me also rose from the ashes that night. 

So many of us were put in a position where we knew that as soon as we heard “GO!” that there would be a pause, a place where we would have to make a decision to either stop and rest on our laurels or build a nest and work to burst forth and then rise to a place of effort and success. And there were others who could do every single component and had to painfully push through in small continuous explosions of flames- jumping, pulling, pushing, falling, and rising up stronger with each repetition.

This is what we do. We do it every day. We’ve committed to ourselves to do so. We all have our reasons but they don’t really matter, because when we bring ourselves to the place where we smolder we all know we will do so together on this constant, cyclical mission to become stronger than we were just moments before.

I never thought of my journey as a “rise from the ashes” sort of thing until now, but the person who fell on Friday night is the not the person I was when I started Crossfit ten months ago.  I started this journey with so much shame in my heart and embarrassment that I had not empowered myself sooner.  That woman is long gone now, I shook my feathers and shed the ashes of her 5,000 burpees ago.  And with the explosion of a 100lb split jerk, the remnants of the woman who was caged by the fear of herself flew from my strong body, wisped into the air and was never to be seen again.

We embrace our tiny explosions and that sets us apart.  And so, dear phoenix,  before you shake it off, stretch your wings (your shoulders must hurt), give your tail feather a shake, straighten up your powerful legs, give those sharp talons a scratch against the dirt, puff up your golden chest, and celebrate 18.3.

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