The time has finally come. As we journey through another year of the CrossFit Open, 18.3 has brought us our greatest challenge. As sure as death and taxes, every year since 2011 we once again face the dreaded muscle-up. The bane of our existence.

We’ve heard the tales of mighty heroes who have defeated this monster. Their victories told through moving pictures all across the Instagrams, the Facebooks, and the YouTubes. Some of us have even seen it for ourselves. We were there cheering when our friends stepped up and fought hard through grit and grime to become victors of their own quests. Their stories were stuff of legend.

Year after year we watched in awe, cheering from the sidelines, but not today. Today we get to show what years of hard work can achieve. Today we stand on the battlefield facing this monster they call a muscle-up while crowds cheer for us! Today, we become the heroes. Today, we become legend.

Our heart is racing and our breathing is shallow. Fire radiates from our shoulders and lungs from the 20 overhead squats and 200 double unders we just destroyed. Our hearing is muffled and our vision narrows. A feeling of equanimity envelops us while we finish chalking our hands and begin marching towards the twin rings. As we stand beneath our foe, we look up only to have our eyes sting from the salt of our sweat and the burning of the lights. This is it.

We feel focused but need to slow down our breathing. After a few deep breaths, we jump up and grab the rings. Our grip feels solid so we confidently start to swing. Bow, hollow, bow… We look into the horizon and see our knees reach the peak of our last hollow. Damn it! We didn’t swing our feet high enough but it doesn’t matter. This is it.

We extend our hips up to the sky and then start pulling the rings down to the ground, punching the monster they call a muscle-up in the face with our crotch. Time slows and we float through the air with our eyes closed. “Stay tight! Pull to your hips and keep your elbows close to your body!” We hear our coach’s cues play hundreds of times over in a split second. As we open our eyes, we see the floor from what feels like 50 feet up in the air.

Today we learn what hundreds of hours of practice, repeating the same mind-numbing drills every damn day, and trusting fully in the progression of our coach’s programming can accomplish. We’ve transitioned through and caught ourselves at the bottom of a ring dip. We’re proof of the process. This is it, but it’s not over.

Through the rumbling of the music, the crowd is chanting our name, and screaming, “GET UP! C’MON, GET UP!!” We need to push. We need to push to for the rep, for the victory, and for the glory. With all our might we drive our knuckles to the ground. We push, we punch, and we kick, but it feels like we’re barely moving.

The crowd gets louder and the building starts to shake. We won’t give up because we came here to fight. With our deepest breath we let out a roar so ferocious, it overtakes the crowd and gives everyone chills. In a delirium of heat and exhaustion we push, we punch, and we kick with every last ounce of energy to press out the dip. Our arms and chest burn as hot as the sun’s core when finally our elbows lock out. We did it. We conquered the twin rings.

We are heroes. We are legend.

Chris Luu, SMT(cc), RMT, SFMA, CFSC, FRCms