April 9, 2013
Conquering Fran
By Lauryn Lax

Some of the South East's leading ladies, Krissi Brown, Jaime Gold and Cheryl Nasso, share how they met, and conquered, Fran.

Photo by: The Face of Fitness

Photo by: Jon Coddaire

Photo by: Jon Coddaire 

Photo by: Jorge Huerta

Landscape photo by: The Face of Fitness

Every CrossFitter’s favorite girl, Fran, came out to play in the final week of the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games Open. Workout 13.5 presented us with an evil twist — a Fran AMRAP.

Whether you are an elite athlete fighting for a top spot on the Leaderboard, or an average Joe hoping for a personal best, most CrossFitters have a love-hate relationship with this classic benchmark workout.

Athletes often have a Fran story whether it is remembering the first time they did it or the “Fran cough” they endured afterward.

Some of the South East’s leading ladies, Krissi Brown, Jaime Gold and Cheryl Nasso, share how they met, and conquered, Fran.

The New Girl: Krissi Brown

When Brown, 39, of CrossFit Paragon, saw Workout 13.5, her first reaction was, “Oh hell!”

This from a woman who logged a time of 2:52 on her first-ever attempt at Fran three years ago. It was her first workout after a two-and-a-half week break from CrossFit while traveling in Italy.

“I was about a year into CrossFit, and had somehow managed to avoid doing Fran in all that time until the coach programmed it that day,” Brown says. “It was just two to three minutes of pure hell. I don’t know how else to better describe it. Those two movements together just suck. There’s no getting around that. And the only way to get through it, is to just keep moving.”

Brown scored 141 reps on 13.5 and is looking forward to her first Regional competition as an individual after finishing the Open in 12th place in the South East. Brown competed on CrossFit Paragon’s team at the 2011 and 2012 Regional.

“I hadn’t done Fran, or anything really like it, in a while so I honestly had no idea really how I would do. I’m not great at butterfly chest-to-bar pull-ups but knew if I wanted to get through it, then I had to do them,” she says. “Well, long story short, it came down to the wire. With only three seconds left, I finished the 90th rep, then knew I had four more minutes of fun to go. The rest was just gravy.”

Brown is a full-time coach at three different boxes in the greater Atlanta area and says one of her greatest joys this past week was encouraging and motivating many of her athletes to accomplish feats they never thought possible.

Tera Saxon, 35, of CrossFit West Cobb, has only been CrossFitting for nine months. Saxon told Brown she would not be able to do 13.5 as prescribed.

“I can’t do chest-to-bar pull-ups … or at least I didn’t think I could,” Saxon says.

“I told her to use full extension and to just kip hard up there. Her chest hit every time,” Brown says. 

“Nineteen times to be exact,” Saxon says. “I had never done Fran before so I guess this is the beginning of my Fran story.”

Veteran CrossFitter: Jaime Gold

As a two-time Games competitor, Gold of CrossFit Conquest is no stranger to Fran.

Gold’s first experience with Fran occurred during the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games Open. She had only been CrossFitting for about five months prior to the Open when she came head-to-head with Workout 11.6: the Fran ladder. She scored 122 reps, which was good enough for third place in the Central East, where she competed that year. A year later, Gold logged 129 reps on workout 12.5, a repeat of the Fran ladder.

“I didn't actually do Fran prescribed until after competing at the Games in 2011,” Gold says. “My first time was 3:02, and I literally fell off the pull-up bar and rolled on the ground in pain for a solid five minutes. I think the reason people really don't like Fran is because thrusters suck and really take it out of you.”

Today, with her most recent Fran time at 2:38, Gold says she was excited by the announcement of 13.5. She completed 152 reps, which was a third-place finish in the South East.

“I knew it would be terrible, but I like chest-to-bar pull-ups and have actually made some progress in getting over my hatred towards thrusters,” Gold says.

The Comeback Kid: Cheryl Nasso

After competing at the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games, Cheryl Nasso missed out on making a return trip last year. Ever since, she has been on a mission to finish what she started as a competitor two years ago.

Nasso was also on a mission to conquer Workout 13.5 this past week. She completed 150 total reps, pushing through the mental and physical drain from the Open.

“I gave it my everything for this final (workout),” Nasso says. “I honestly had gotten pretty burned out after training so hard the past five weeks. My body felt horrible, and my mind was worse. I think we all get there at some point. I had to really push myself — but did, and now I am looking forward to what’s to come.”

Nasso finished the Open in third place overall in the South East.

This is a far cry from where Nasso was back in 2010, three months into CrossFit, when she did her first Fran and got her “butt kicked.”

“The first day I got a pull-up, my coach at the time told me I was going to do Fran. Problem was, my hands were already raw from the last hour I had spent trying to get a pull-up. So, with bloody hands and determination, I took on the challenge,” she says. “Long story short, I did 21 thrusters unbroken, then spent the next 10 minutes finishing 21 pull-ups; 15 thrusters unbroken, then another 10 minutes on pull-ups. I think you get the idea.”

Thirty minutes later, Nasso made it through her first Fran. Fast forward to today, and she can conquer it in 3:20.