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Reflections on My First Crossfit Open

April 3, 2017
AUTHOR: Emilie
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Reading Time: 9 minutes

I recently told someone that if they’re looking for a way to make money quickly, they should take a life insurance policy on me because I was not sure that I would make it through the open. I’m happy to say, though, that Mama, I made it.

The better analogy is that of  one of those escape rooms: you know you’re going to make it out at the end of the hour, but you want to feel good about how you do as opposed to just finishing the hour. I knew I’d make it through the Open, but I wanted to be satisfied, maybe even pleased, with my performance. Overall, the Crossfit Open was a fulfilling experience and I would do it again, but not until next year.

The Open

The Crossfit Open was a five-week fitness event. New workouts are released each Thursday with scores and performances due Monday. The Open is the first qualifying state of the Crossfit Games. The Open is not only about making it to the games, though. For example, I knew I was never going to make it there. For people like me, the Open experience is a new opportunity to push myself. I have felt how the positive effects of a high-energy environment, like a Crossfit competition day or a Holiday WOD, can get the adrenaline pumping and push me to a new limit. It was at Crossfit for Carson hosted by Crossfit QFE in Lumberton, NC that I hit a thruster 3RM and it was on President’s Day (when everyone has off and came to the only WOD of the day) that I hit a squat clean PR of 125. I figured the open would have much of that same energy, where you can feel the excitement in the air. That was why I decided to sign up. I didn’t need some sort of validation or spot on a leaderboard. I was still going to push myself as hard as I could, but if I could push myself just a little bit harder on these special workouts over this five weeks, I’d be ecstatic. I am happy to report it did.

If you’re new here, you may not have seen the story of my fitness journey, including how I lost nearly 100 lbs over the course of a year. That what loss was not related to me discovering Crossfit, but it was a necessary step in me learning how to look at and use my body has an active tool. I shared more about my background story in my reflection on 17.1 (the first workout of the Crossfit Open). I have only been doing Crossfit since August 2016, and only ever at Crossfit Raeford in Raeford, NC. While I initially signed up because I wanted an excuse to get out of the house every down, I am now grateful for how my life has been changed.

The Workouts

Of the five workouts in the open, I completed two as prescribed (Rx) and three as scaled. I went into The Open hoping to complete as much of it Rx as possible but knew that depending on the movements and the weights asked of me I would have the scale. This proved to be true for the last three workouts. The workouts, as I completed them (indicated where scaled), were as follows.


For time:
10 dumbbell snatches
15 burpee box jump-overs
20 dumbbell snatches
15 burpee box jump-overs
30 dumbbell snatches
15 burpee box jump-overs
40 dumbbell snatches
15 burpee box jump-overs
50 dumbbell snatches
15 burpee box jump-overs

Women use 35-lb. dumbbell and 20-in. box

Time cap: 20 minutes


Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 12 minutes of:
2 rounds of:
50-ft. weighted walking lunge
16 toes-to-bars
8 power cleans
Then, 2 rounds of:
50-ft. weighted walking lunge
16 bar muscle-ups
8 power cleans
Etc., alternating between toes-to-bars and bar muscle-ups every 2 rounds.

Women use 35-lb. dumbbells

17.3 (Scaled)

Prior to 8:00, complete:
3 rounds of:
6 jumping chin-over-bar pull-ups
6 squat snatches, 35 lb.
Then, 3 rounds of:
7 jumping chin-over-bar pull-ups
5 squat snatches, 55 lb.
*Prior to 12:00, complete 3 rounds of:
8 jumping chin-over-bar pull-ups
4 squat snatches, 65 lb.
*Prior to 16:00, complete 3 rounds of:
9 jumping chin-over-bar pull-ups
3 squat snatches, 75 lb.
*Prior to 20:00, complete 3 rounds of:
10 jumping chin-over-bar pull-ups
2 squat snatches, 95 lb.
Prior to 24:00, complete 3 rounds of:
11 jumping chin-over-bar pull-ups
1 squat snatch, 105 lb.

*If all reps are completed, time cap extends by 4 minutes.
Note: Squat snatches or power snatches with overhead squats permitted.

17.4 (Scaled)

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 13 minutes of:
55 deadlifts, 95 lb.
55 wall-ball shots, 10-lb. ball to 9-ft. target
55-calorie row
55 hand-release push-ups

17.5 (Scaled)

10 rounds for time of:
9 thrusters, 45 lb.
35 single-unders

My Open Journey

In one way, each of these five workouts is a snapshot of where I was- physically, mentally, and emotionally- when I performed the workout. This is how I’ll be able to use them in future training as benchmarks. I’ll be able to point to that time I did 10 rounds in 17.5 and retest my performance in the future if I’d like. In another way, in what is actually a much more transformative way, I think these are building blocks on my own journey- of living a healthier, stronger, (hopefully) longer, more fulfilling life.

Photo by Kelli Frances Photography

I shared my thoughts on 17.1 pretty extensively earlier this this month, so I won’t rehash them too in-depth here, but there were a couple of things I learned from this workout. Dave Castro had given gym owners a “heads up” of sorts through Instagram that dumbbells would be used in the open at two weights. It was not that hard to extrapolate that women would be expected to use the lighter of the weight, 35 lbs. This meant that I could have prepared to use 35 lb dumbbells for the Open. Instead, I did all my preparation work at 20 lbs like a dingus. In retrospect, training at 35 lbs would have better prepared me for any dumbbell work in the open. Lesson learned.


I also shared my reflection on 17.2 earlier this month. I did 17.2 in the evening right after the announcement at my box. It was an amazing evening and certainly the high-energy experience I was craving. It was hard because TTB (toes to bar) are still a new movement to me and I don’t really have many strung together. For the bar muscle ups in the third round (admittedly a bit of a misnomer to call it a “round”), I figured I’d just cross that bridge when I got there. The good news is I just got there and then my time was up, meaning I successfully completed it Rx!

My experience with 17.3 was slightly different from the two earlier workouts. First, it was the only announcement that I did not watch at the box with my gym mates.  I was sorta bummed but I was babysitting for a gym mate so that she and her husband could go to a military ball. Also, I got to watch the announcement on a kid’s iPad trying to explain to this female small child that it’s way more important to be strong than it is to be pretty. [This is something I indoctrinate all the kids I babysit with, by the way.] The announcement included pull ups, so I had no choice but to go scaled. While I’m working hard to get pull ups, they are unfortunately something I just don’t have consistently at this moment. This is a movement that will not block me next year!

17.3 was also the only workout the entire open that I repeated. Even though I said, I was going to be one and done and confirmed that was still my mentality going into 17.3, I changed my mind after doing 17.3 the first time. I was four movements away from making it to the next time cap. After doing the workout on Friday, I decided to do the workout again on Saturday. I was hoping to do it on Sunday or Monday, but I didn’t want to risk there not being a judge at the gym, so I had to find a time that I could guarantee a judge, so Saturday mid-morning I brought Casey to the box with me where he could be my judge. It didn’t matter because I got the same score. This confirmed to me that I was going to be one and done the remainder of the Open. Lesson learned the hard way.

Photo by Kelli Frances Photography

Going into 17.4, my body was really hurting. I had to take three days off that week. Now, I normally Crossfit five or six days a week. For me, taking three days off is not an insignificant or inconsequential thing. It means I’m really feeling it. I’m human and so I struggle with some amount of laziness, but three days is probably a record of not-working-out for a non-travel week. Interestingly enough, we had 16.4 programmed at the box on that Monday. Being sore and seeing wallballs (my weakest movement) on the workout, I didn’t make it to the gym. When Thursday’s 17.4 came around as the same workout, I realized that in some ways it was a blessing- my body actually got to rest- but also a curse- I never got the chance to practice it.

I considered giving 17.4 a whirl at the Rx division. The deadlift would be heavy, but I knew that would mean that I wouldn’t make it to the HSPUs, giving me the opportunity to do 17.4 similarly to how I did 17.2. The prior week, though, I had turned my deadlift 1RM into a 5RM, meaning I pulled that weight five times in one set. It was awesome and exciting, but only exacerbated my body’s being torn apart. When I set to warm up for the RX weight, it took two pulls for me to realize it just couldn’t happen. I decided in that moment to scale.

As I mentioned, wall balls are a weakness of mine. Okay, weakness is a bit of understate- crippling mental block that keeps me from being successful at things is a better description. I don’t know what it is about this particular moment but I struggle with it so hard. People have tried to comfort me by saying that wall balls are difficult for short people (I am only 5’1), but I know that what I have is more than that. It’s a hurdle that I need to figure out how to work through. I promised my gym mom that I would start doing 10 WBS at 10 lbs every day (that I go to the gym) in April. Be sure to see stay tuned to my goals updates to see how I do.

17.5 was an interesting experience. Like 17.2, I volunteered to do it right after the announcement at the box. After the announcement, though, I said that I couldn’t do it because if I worked out for 40 minutes that late at night I would never sleep. The people at my box looked at me like I had three heads. You see, I was insistent that it would take me 40 minutes to do. I was not just kinda insistent either- I was adamantly insistent that it would take me 40 minutes to do all ten rounds. Boy was I wrong. My bad, guys.

I did have to scale this one too, but this time because of double unders. I can now consistently hit single-single-double for four to six reps, but for some reason I can’t really get passed that, and while I’ve strung two together before, I can’t really get passed those. This is definitely another thing I’ll be working on going into next year. I will not let double unders be my blocker next year!

A year ago, if you had asked me if I’d be here right now, I would have laughed in your face. I’m fitter now than I’ve ever been at any point in my life. I didn’t need the Open to prove that to anyone, including myself, but it was a great way to set a benchmark for me. I look around at the women at my gym, many of whom have had children, and am constantly in awe of their fitness, of their dedication of their commitment to growth. They give me amazing examples of what I should work towards and are amazing role models.

It’s also nice though to pause every once in a while a recognize how far I’ve come. This open I did dumbbell and barbell snatches. I did burpee box jump overs. I did lunges and toes to bars. I did deadlifts and wallballs and thrusters. I jumped rope and I rowed. I pushed myself way out of my comfort zone and pushed my body to its limits. I tried new things. I learned new lessons. And I could not be me grateful for it all.

Open 2018 prep is already underway, and I can’t wait to see where I’ll be by then!

Remember, you can always follow my Crossfit progress on my Fit/Foodstagram at @FoodEmilieEats or add me on MyFitnessPal at @EmilieBurke93.

All the photos in this post are from Kelli Frances Photography. Kelli is a member of the CFR family and took some amazing photos that I couldn’t resist sharing. Pictures were used with her permission. If you’re in the Fort Bragg/Fayetteville-area and need pictures taken, you need to reach out to Kelli!

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