Emily Hartman is no slouch, no new discoverer of fitness. The Little Rock architect doesn’t tout it, doesn’t broadcast it without being asked, but she has several Ironman finishes behind her--2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking, and then a marathon to top it off. Not once, but several times she’s raced that sequence, that distance. But last triathlon season, as she went to the start line of the last big race, she thought she almost couldn't make it. She had a tendon that had been giving her trouble and it nearly derailed the race she’d been spending months and hours upon hours preparing for. It was after that race, after evaluating the season past and the season ahead, that she decided to try Crossfit. In part she wanted to try it because she concluded that part of her injury from last season resulted from insufficient strength development and mobility. And besides, she wanted to try something new. What could it hurt?
It turned out that it could hurt a lot. “I’ve learned a lot about humility,” says Hartman of her Crossfit experience. “You think if you can finish a triathlon you’re invincible and then you try lifting and its so much harder.” Emily says that the first day she walked into CFLR she was prepared for any old gym with fresh towels and treadmills and staff with matching polos, what she saw were stacks of bumper plates and rubber mats and pull up bars. She was intimidated--”I walked in that first day and I thought, Oh, my gosh. I’m just going to go back and sit in my car and its going to be okay.” But Emily is one for a challenge, she gave herself a pep talk and committed to sticking it out for two weeks. She’s been at Crossfit Little Rock, working out consistently day in and day out, for five months now. It’s been a slow going journey at times, something that could be frustrating for an experienced and accomplished athlete. When she finished her foundations class, Emily says she wanted to immediately do it again, but with the help of Josh, Matt and Adele she has been moving forward through the WODs. She talks about how what she most appreciates about Crossfit and the approach of the coaches is the emphasis on lifting right rather than lifting heavy. Paying attention to form has been crucial to her moving forward.
There are two facts about Emily that explain a good deal of her character. First is the fact that she was the winner of the “Paleo Challenge” which means that she has a lot of self-discipline and focus once she has committed to a challenge. “It was really hard and a new thing for me to be that disciplined in my eating for so long,” Emily says adding, “I think it was the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do.” Which is saying a lot from a multiple Ironman finisher. It was a way of eating that she is going to take forward with her, though not with as much strict adherence as the challenge required.
The second fact is that when we asked Emily what her favorite CF movement was she answered “burpees” without hesitation. That is a movement many people would put on their least favorite list, an exercise many football coaches use to break down linebackers. But Emily enjoys the challenge and hard work of them. When it comes to least favorite movement Emily has no dislikes, but she does have her fears. At 5 feet tall she is intimidated by box jumps and doing them at the prescribed height during WODs is one of her biggest goals.
It’s a goal she’s confident she can achieve, with the help she’s been given by the CFLR coaches. She told us about how the one time she did a box jump as Rx’d it was because Josh kept helping her along, adding up 45 lb plates until she reached the height of the box. “He showed me that its a psychological block,” Emily said, “But I still have a hard time doing them.”
All of her box jumps and pull ups, her o-lifts and burpees will get their test this fall as Emily takes on another Ironman, this time in Arizona. Her goal is to break 13hrs and she hopes that with a stronger body built on top of her regular swim, bike, run training that this will be the year she’ll achieve that goal. Whatever the outcome, her time with Crossfit has already showed her that she can do things she never imagined and she can be sure that all of us who lift and jump and row alongside her will be rooting for her until the finish.