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A Badly-Timed Birthday Present: MF Tackles CrossFit Open Workout 13.3

The good news: I scored my first muscle-up on my 32nd birthday. Actually, I did two. The bad news: One happened before my workout and the other after it.

MF’s social media manager Christopher Hunt will be tackling a new CrossFit Open workout each week in hopes of making the cut and gaining coveted entry into the Games. Stay tuned for videos and blog posts chronicling his experiences with the torturous WODs and find out if he has what it takes to go all the way.

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There are two moves I’ve been dreading since the start of this five-week CrossFit Open workout series. Double-unders are my arch rival, and I consider the muscle-up a stranger that I once saw but never met. This week, those two exercises both made an appearance in Open Workout 13.3, a 12-minute AMRAP of 150 wall balls at 20 pounds, 90 double-unders, and 30 muscle-ups. It’s like the programmers at CrossFit knew it was my birthday.

What the WOD? Decoding the Language of CrossFit>>>

In the spirit of getting older, I took a vacation to Puerto Rico. I arranged to tackle CrossFit Open WOD 13.3 at Reebok CrossFit Iron Heart in San Juan, which turned out to be about 10 minutes from where I was staying. When I first contacted the box, I was told that a group would be doing the WOD at 9:30 p.m. and I was welcomed to join. But that just seemed like too late in the day for a hard workout, especially on my birthday. Plus, I realized that I had spent the better part of the morning waiting for the workout to start. I was measuring my breakfast, worrying about what I was drinking, and scared that the sun would sap my energy. So I decided to go early and get it over with.

I felt like part tourist, part athlete. My goal was simply to reach the muscle-ups. If I could magically score my first one during this WOD, it would be like touching the stars.  I just had to survive the wall balls.

They were endless. Somewhere between 50 and 60 reps in, I wanted to quit. Since I showed up early, I was doing the workout alone while another class was going on. My quads were screaming and I could barely find my breath. The heat laid on me like a heavy blanket and now I knew why the other competitors decided to wait until 9:30 p.m. They wanted to get as far away from the sun as possible.

I started the wall balls with two sets of 25. Then I was down to 15 and shortly after I was suffering through sets of 10 and 5 reps.

Through my heavy breaths I could hear people cheering for me. The class at Iron Heart had paused before they started their own workout to cheer me through mine. I was more than 2,000 miles away from home, in a gym where no one knew me, and everyone had stopped their work to support me. It’s true what they say—CrossFit is about community.

I finished the wall balls in just over 8 minutes. I stumbled over to my jump rope and hoisted it off the floor. It felt like it weighed 50 pounds. There was no real strategy here, but I got things moving. A month ago I could hardly string together three double-unders in a row. This time I pushed through sets of 10 to 12.

I was down to my last minute when I reached up to the gymnastics rings for muscle-ups. After three big kipping swings, I failed my first attempt. My second try never stood a chance. I crumpled to the floor after 240 completed reps and the memory of my first muscle-up--the one that didn’t even count.

One of the best gifts I gave myself for adding another year to my 30s was challenging my body's limits, and when my workout was over, trainer Rafael Amdujor promptly reminded me that I was on vacation: “Great job,” he said. “Want a beer?”

In case you missed it, check out:

Rock, Paper, Scissors: MF Tackles CrossFit Open WOD 13.1>>>

The Truth Hurts: MF Tackles CrossFit Open WOD 13.2>>>

Are you competing for the Games too? How’d your Open workout go this week? Tell us on Facebook. Then stay up to the minute on the latest training advice by signing up for a monthly MF newsletter.

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