One Year Anniversary

I got an email this morning to inform me today is my one-year anniversary with CrossFit Austin. Fun! It’s time for a Very Special Episode of The Clothes Make The Girl in which we’ll do a quick retrospective on the last year of WODs, heavy things, and sweat angels. Let’s go!

When I think of CrossFit Austin now, it’s usually something like the photo below of Tall D, Ray, and I riding Satan’s Bicycle last week. We’re working our asses off, but we’re laughing while we do it.

But it wasn’t like that in the beginning.

I joined CFA in the midst of a giant upheaval in my life. Personally, things were not going very well, and I was at the start of my on-going thyroid roller coaster. I’d been on a “little break” from my previous CrossFit box while I tried to sort out my life and decided that if everything else was changing, maybe my workout routine should adapt, too.

From that very first workout, CrossFit Austin – thanks, in particular, to my coach Tristy and the 6:30 a.m. class – became a place where I could relax. I know that sounds crazytown given that the WODs make me gasp for air and ensure my CrossFit muscle will be sore, but routinely running the warm-up 400m and stepping onto the black mats on the floor gave me structure and a reason to keep striving for the best version of me when everything else seemed uncertain.

Here’s the recap of my first day at CrossFit Austin.

Staring Down The Nemeses

I’m a vanilla CrossFitter, not a firebreather, so I have a handy list of CrossFit crap that scares me. It’s getting smaller, but when I joined CFA last year, cleans and handstands topped the list. It took exactly one workout for Tristy to relieve me of my clean phobia. Read about it right here.

And then, because she’s kind of a show-off, she worked with me on my tear-inducing and totally paralyzing fear of kicking up into a handstand against the wall. On December 6, 2010, for the first time in my life, I became a person who can kick up into a handstand, after 43 years of NOT being a person who can kick up into a handstand. That was a very good day.

Also good? The day I was able to string together a series of unbroken double-unders. First I managed 10, then I got a dirty dozen. My most recent DU PR is 22. But I hope that record won’t stand for long!


Hello, PR!

One of my favorite things about CrossFit Austin is that we spend a lot of time communing with the barbells, and in the last year, I’ve reached a new comfort-level with lifting heavy stuff. Instead of feeling like the barbell is a foreign object, I now like to think that the barbell is an extension of me, and that we are an unstoppable team. We might even be demon hunters.

That new confidence with the bar has resulted in PRs in front squat, clean, and press. If you read the posts at those links you’ll see my workouts are a mixed bag of success (Woot! A new PR!) and struggles (monthly hormones, thyroid lethargy, popcorn hangovers). Even in the face of triumph, the striving continues. I heard this F. Scott Fitzgerald quote recently and it sounded a lot like the people I’ve met through CrossFit: “Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.” Right on to that.


Even Better Than That

But more than the new skills and the PRs, I’m grateful for my coaches and friends at CrossFit Austin. We laugh a lot. We sing along to 80s hair metal and shake our fannies to bad hip hop. When I cry those annoying and inexplicable mid-workout, thyroid-induced tears, my workout buddies kindly pretend not to notice, and Tristy quietly coaches me through the WOD. I feel inspired to try harder and comforted when I fall short, and except for days when my body just won’t cooperate, I’m always glad to see “CFA” on my schedule.

From that first morning when I walked into a gym full of 20-something boys, I’ve felt welcome and like I totally belonged there, even if I am old enough to be mom to at least half of them. I usually work out with my pal Jenny (Hi, Jenny!), sometimes Coach Walker (Yay, Walker!), and the boys. It can be disconcerting to realize I will never be able to keep up with those boys, but simply trying to hang (and, frankly, not embarrass myself) makes me better, faster, stronger. I won’t catch them, but that is totally OK with me. As long as I keep showing up.



Tuesday 10: Jump Rope Variations

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A Dirty Dozen of Double-Unders

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  • Chazzy D says:

    working out with you is AWESOME! You’re so inspirational, honestly!

  • Lauren says:

    I really love this post. Thanks for sharing it with us 🙂

  • Windy says:


  • Tim Huntley says:

    Hey Mel,

    A lot of what you are saying resonates with me (I am 44, male). Being in a gym with lots of 20 somethings was hard for a while, but now I am just focused on getting better.

    I am working hard to get my DUs going. Right now trying to do 100 SUs every day unbroken (miss and go back to zero) so that I am coordinated enough.

    Take care,


    • Mel says:

      I am in awe of our 100-DUs-a-day. Holy cow! Rock on with your bad self.

      40 is the new 20, right?!

      • Tim Huntley says:

        40 is definitely the new 20 except last week (when our WOD was 5×5 Front Squats, followed by 3×50 Back Squats – bar only, followed by 200 walking lunges). I was in PAIN for 4 days.

        Also, I am not doing 100 DU’s yet…That is 100 SU’s :)….

  • Oh sistergirl! I love you more than my luggage! (I’m a Southern woman, that is a very big deal)

    Congratulations on your CFAnniversary! I love working out with you (and the 630am boys). You are an inspiration to me. I have never had so many new awesome friends that are so naturally my family. I look forward to getting to the gym every morning. And who ever says that?!?

  • Elizabeth says:

    This is very inspirational! As a Crossfit newbie, I look forward to hitting milestones and conquering my fears.

    • Mel says:

      You’ll be amazed how quickly your fear turns into fun frexcitement… and there’s always something new to conquer, which makes it fun, too. Never done… yay!

  • Lydia says:

    Happy Anniversary! What an inspiring post!

  • Tristy says:

    So, I read your blog all the time and refrain from commenting (even when you call me a show off:)) But, today I couldn’t resist saying my congrats on your 1 year at Crossfit Austin and tell you what a pleasure it has been coaching you!! Your spirit and drive are unstoppable (even during your mini breakdowns)! You never give up and keep fighting even though life has definitely thrown you some unfair curve balls! Thank you for your inspiration and your friendship! You mean the world to me and I can’t wait to see what another year brings!

    • Mel says:

      Tristy! I like to think of that handstand as a joint venture — it absolutely wouldn’t have happened without you at my side. Plus, success is more fun with friends 🙂

      Thanks, again. You’re the best.

  • Walker says:

    YAY Mel! So proud of you and your journey. It is always a pleasure to work along side of you and I am so grateful you are a part of our family!

    • Mel says:

      Walker, I’m always so happy when we get to workout together! The day we did strength work as a team was a highlight of the year. XO