April 12, 2013
Have You Heard of Molly Biss?
By Lauryn Lax

"We need to be grateful that we have the ability to do this sport everyday and stop complaining about the things we can’t do."

Photos by Kim Wong

You may have heard of Jason Khalipa and Pat Barber from NorCal CrossFit, but have you heard of Molly Biss?

Ranked 20th in Northern California, Biss is one of the new names headed to the 2013 Northern California Regional.

Over the last five weeks, she has kept a low profile while training with high-profile athletes. Each time Khalipa, Neal Maddox, Barber, Garret Fisher and Miranda Oldroyd got together to do the Open workout, Biss joined. If you streamed the live footage of the NorCal CrossFit throwdowns, you may have seen an unrecognizable blond woman churning through the reps. That’s Biss.

Biss caught onto CrossFit unusually quickly. Last year, she took 30th in the Open in SoCal and was able to hold her own with Team CrossFit 760, which tied for third at the SoCal Regional, but ultimately lost a chance at the Games because of a previous first-place finish by the other team.

“I’m channeling that feeling of disappointment from that weekend into my daily training,” Biss says.

In 2011, Biss helped the team from CrossFit North Marin make it to the NorCal Regional.

It’s an impressive record for an athlete just three years into CrossFit, but she says she has only recently become confident in her abilities as a CrossFit athlete. This year, she’s summoning the confidence needed to face the Regional alone.

“I have come a long way,” Biss says.

This year, she got 10 120-lb. snatches on 13.1 (17th in NorCal), busted out more than 11 rounds of shoulder-to-overheads, deadlifts and box jumps on 13.2 (29th), scored 12 muscle-ups on 13.3 (27th), finished the 15s and got eight clean and jerks into the 18s on 13.4 (32nd), and came just two reps short of finishing chest-to-bar Fran within the four-minute time cap on 13.5 (42nd).  

In any regular box, she’d have a crowd of her own shouting her name. Her performances are remarkable, but just middle-of-the pack in the ultra-competitive Regional scene.

Now that the Open is over, she’s going to work on her weaknesses.

“The Open is a little test each week, and you find things that are solid and things that need fine tuning. As my coach put it, ‘You'll love the pull-up bar by the end of these next (five) weeks,’” Biss says.

She splits her time between NorCal CrossFit and CrossFit North Marin. Four days per week, she drives south to NorCal CrossFit to train with the top athletes. The other two days per week she stays close to home, and works on her goats at CrossFit North Marin.

She loves “anything with the barbell” and skills like box jumps, handstand walks and short sprints. However, she recognizes she needs to become better at high-rep gymnastics movements like toes-to-bars and muscle-ups. Improving her grip strength could also help with high rep chest-to-bar pull-ups, she says.

“We work a lot on our volume at NorCal, and with my friend’s, Casey Parlett’s, programming,” she says.

Over the last year, she has spent a lot of time working on her weightlifting technique and has seen improvement in lifts such as the clean and jerk.

“What is a heavy clean and jerk for me? Ha, depends on the workout. If it’s a 20-minute every-minute-on-the-minute with Jason Khalipa, I know our three reps will eventually reach seven reps by the end of it because he likes to add volume, so somewhere around 135 lb. If we’re going for really heavy … my PR is 200 lb.”

Training with the 2008 CrossFit Games champion and others at NorCal CrossFit has helped her feel more confident in her abilities, and more willing to try even when the likelihood of succeeding is slim. It’s part of following her passions in life.

Over the last two years, Biss has made a lot of changes in her life in order to follow her passion. She quit her job as an event coordinator at a winery in order to become a trainer at CrossFit 760 in Southern California. Although she wouldn’t make as much money, she thought the change was worth it. She couldn’t go a day without CrossFit.

“Once I found CrossFit and got my Level 1, I found myself leaving my job early to get to the gym for my part-time coaching job. I immediately fell in love with helping others reach their goals. My boyfriend, Adam, is a fireman and wakes up everyday excited for his job, and loving what he does,” she says. “I wanted that feeling, I wanted to be able to do what I love every day, all day.”

Just a few months later, she accepted a job at NorCal CrossFit.

“After gaining my coaching experience and living, eating and breathing CrossFit, I returned a year later and landed my dream job at NorCal CrossFit. I love the people I work with and the group I get to train with everyday,” she says.

Each day, in every aspect of her life, she repeats the word “vincero.” It means, “I will win,” in Italian.

“My brother-in-law, James Forni, who’s battling melanoma cancer, lives by this motto. He’s an amazing person with a strength and fight that I have never seen in anyone,” she says.

“I think about him and his daily fight for life and it makes me move harder and faster. We need to be grateful that we have the ability to do this sport everyday and stop complaining about the things we can’t do.”