Mission: Unbreakable – 10km OCR Review

For the first time in 2 years, I had an obstacle course race last weekend. Sunday 15 Oct, North Molton (N Devon), “Mission: Unbreakable”, 10km. In support of North Devon Hospice charity.

I’ll start by saying that I loved it. Highly recommended, this is now my second favourite OCR. Having completed Tough Guy (Summer and Winter), Rat Race Dirty Weekend, Brutal 10km, Spartan Beast, and Rock Solid Race, I can compare and contrast evenly. With Spartan Beast at the bottom, and Rock Solid Race at the top, this comes a very healthy second.

Billed as “definitely not a race”, I should have paid more attention to the blurb about it being a team event. Arriving without a team, I was pretty stand-up obvious. Being as competitive as I am, I also wasn’t going to let “not a race” hold me back, but I’ll get to that.

On arrival, we were greeted, marshalled, and warmed up by the highly enthusiastic and professional support team of 24 Commando Royal Engineers. Throughout, they were excellent, encouraging and very humorous. Big B.Z. to them!

Registration was smooth, well controlled and swift. With none of the “village” (stalls, shops, etc) to divert the attentions, it was clear where to be and when. After check in, and the beautiful mock-camouflage t-shirt, we were funneled into a holding pen, awaiting our turn to begin.

Not A Race. In the spirit of the event, we were “cammed up” by on-hand soldiers; seeing my t-shirt, they let me do my own face painting. We then received a safety brief, again articulating the “not a race” message, a thorough, and very good natured warm-up from the physical training instructors, and were off. There was no starting pistol, no horn, no timings chips…we simply strolled off.

  • Shoes: Inov-8
  • Compression Tights: Sub Zero
  • Shorts: New Balance
  • T-Shirt: 30 Commando IX Group

The Not Race. Well, that was weird. Somewhat disorientated by the start, I bimbled off with “The A Team”, a four person crew of 3rd-timers. We hit the first obstacle, some monkey bars, together but their team leader quickly identified that I was champing at the bit to get moving and so told me not to wait around. So, picking up the pace, I opened it up and found myself crawling through mud, under barbed wire, over hay bails, up ropes, across chasms, against strong water flow, up lots of hills, down an extremely long water slide, through ice baths, over fire, and scaling cargo nets. There was all the usual fayre that you would expect.

Unlike my Spartan experience, this was all highly professional, well-marshalled and safe. As I had no team, I did take safety in to my own hands on one occasion though – the telegraph pole carry. It was supposed to be a minimum of a 2 man-lift, following a short course. Unperturbed by lack of anyone around me, I lifted and carried it myself. The same was true on the tyre flips although arguably it was only a 1-man lift for that really. Where I joined another team was for the paintball event (awesome!).

The Difference. For me, what made this event standout was the team nature of it. All the way round, I got to chat to teams from far and wide who were there to help each other through it. Their collective humour was infectious. The marshalls and 24 Commando soldiers absolutely bought in to the humour side of it all. The level of encouragement was absolutely fantastic and for me it places this event high on my list of “must repeat”.

Improvements. For me (for Mrs Nomad and the Team Nomad), one change could have been made. By giving out a map of the course, and permission to allow people to watch at certain locations would have made the world of difference to the supporters. In my case, they ‘only’had to wait an hour before I popped up at the water-slide and then the ice bath. Other than that, there was nowhere to view the event which meant a long wait for many before their athletes returned. It’s a no-cost, huge return change that really would make a difference.

Time. 1 hr 13 mins. Of course, it wasn’t a race 😉

Thank you. A big thank you goes to North Devon Hospice, 24 Commando Royal Engineers, and to the sponsors. I will be returning to this event next year, family with me to take part!

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Dealing with anticlimax and disappontment

Awaking early on a Sunday, I was excited. My first competition in well over a year. Not a race I could win but one to truly challenge myself. Not sports I would usually go for either,  but something relatively new. 

I headed downstairs for my big bowl of oats. Cup of coffee, staring out of the window at the grey, brooding skies…quick check of the Met Office app – yep, a little drizzle, some light breeze, but ok. Taking the Earl Grey up to Mrs Nomad, I flicked open the drawers to get my race kit out. The wetsuit, goggles and trunks were already good to go by the door. The warrior princesses awoke and we got them through breakfast before swiftly dressing and shuffling them in to the car.

My excitement was building,  I’ll admit. Having not had any form of competition for so long, the chance to just launch from a start line, surrounded by 249 others, was compelling. 

We headed off along the A38, and then down narrow country lanes, weaving through Devon villages still silent on a Sunday morning. The turning for South Milton Sands loomed, the National Trust Car Park symbol leading the way. We crested a hill and saw it…the sea…the start…a little choppy….a lot choppy. 

Parking among the few early arrivals, I jogged over to the TrailEvents.co marshalls setting  up. “1km Sea Swim, 15km Trail Run”, the billowing banners read. “Not a chance”, the faces said. “Sorry mate, swim cancelled, we can’t get the safety boat out – you can still run though, or you can defer.”

£40 for a 15km run on public roads, Mrs Nomad and the girls sitting in the car?

No chance.

And with that, it with as over and we were driving away, back through the Sunday morning villages. No race. No challenge. Gone.
What hit me very quickly was pretty intense and unexpected. 

The sense of anticlimax was pretty tangible. It felt like a new emotion, having not really felt this for a very long time. I’d paid, physically prepared, mentally prepared, was ready, and then…….flat.

So what do you do? How do you overcome that? What’s next?


Well, for starters, the weather improved within an hour, as did my mood 😉

Acceptance

You can’t get around it. The event was cancelled. There’s no arguing or challenging, it’s done.  Let the emotion do its thing and learn from it for the next time.

Achievement

I conducted a whole heap of new training that I was unaccustomed to before.  I’m not much of a long distance runner and I’m certainly no swimmer. But I achieved new skills and new levels of Fitness that are transferable back in to CrossFit and for the future. Didn’t Greg Glassman tell us to, “Learn and play new sports” in the “What is CrossFit?” genesis document? How many of us regularly do? So this is a new achievement and should be celebrated.

Motivation

Tap in to the motivation that was there when you woke up to compete and set a new challenge as soon as you can. While I’ve been focusing on endurance, it was at the expense of strength and CF competitions. Immediately, I reached out to Charlie Goode, our Coach-in-Chief and asked for comps.

Build

Take the new skills you have and build on them. I’m not going to now put my wetsuit to one side and say, “thanks”. I’ve given myself the challenge of getting to a lake, and doing a swim/Run on my own or with a friend. I need to see this through, if for nothing but closure. After that, I will continue to seek open water swimming opportunities.

This has been a learning opportunity for me. I didn’t like it at first but I’ve seen strong positives in it. I am stronger now as an athlete.

Airports. I love them. And I sprinted this morning.

I haven’t been everywhere.  But it’s on my list – Susan Sontag

I really love airports. Flying for business or pleasure, I absolutely don’t care. I can’t get enough of the experience. I never tire of it. Sure, you can have all sorts of delays, cancellations, baggage losses and other upsets, but there’s something about the diversity, emotions, hope, and anticipation that floods through an airport. 

I am very fortunate that in my job there is a pretty decent amount of travel. Yeah, so occasionally, I might have to go to an actual nasty place but that is becoming less likely these days. More often than not, I find myself conducting what most people would simply term as “business trips”. I take very short trips, often just a night or two, to far flung places to have a meeting, shake some hands and come back. These are ideal. These are short pauses in normal routine where I get to envelope myself in the hustle, joy, tears, fears, panic, and peaceful excitement of the greatest cross-section of the world. 

As I look around, I see immediately the Red and Blue of a Great Britain sports team. Not immediately obvious who they are but clearly focused, in peak condition for whatever they are headed towards. There are some who just can’t keep their eyes off the incoming arrivals and outgoing planes, streaking away in all directions across the sky. There are those buried, oblivious to the world, in a phone/laptop/tablet. Some are trying new foods for the first time at the sushi bar. Many have shopping bags, carrying devices, clothes, wine, that they didn’t think they needed when they passed through check-in. 

The smiles are the most obvious expression. Kisses and embraces at almost every turn. So far, no arguments; well, not with each other, perhaps at the coffee bill!
Anyway, you get the picture, I’m flying again. Heathrow Terminal 2 once more. My gate has just flashed up as A18 so I should get this posted. 

Strength  

4 x 6 (per leg) weighted Box Step Ups @ 24″

4 x 32kg (2 × 16kg Kettlebells). Maintained a strong core. Supersetted with Handstand holds.

MetCon 

For Time:

  • 600m Sprint
  • Rest 4 mins
  • 400m Sprint
  • Rest 3 mins
  • 200m Sprint
  • Rest 2 mins
  • 20 x Burpees 

Time: 13:43

Definitely my wheelhouse, this one. Out front from the start, despite the 0530 eye opening today. I kept up the pressure throughout, each round relatively as fast as the previous. 20 Burpees then smashed out in 42 seconds. Considering 9 mins of it was “Rest”, this is pretty strong.

Nutrition 

Still 2100 KCal per day but now compensating for cals expended during exercise, using Vivoactive HR (with HRM strap) for increased accuracy.

Still sticking with 35% Carbs / 35% Protein / 35% Fats. Still mostly unprocessed and simple.

Sometimes, you just have to get the work done. Just Do it. But prepare for the Zombie.

Fitness.

Because one day the Zombies will come.

zombieA full CrossFit session in the AM, inc. strength and a MetCon, the AMRAP Plus One Strength session in the evening, and then duathlon training. That was my yesterday. My morning today? Zombie. Coffee. Oats. Zombie.

After taking a day off last week mainly through laziness, and with weekends sacrosanct, I played catch-up yesterday, determined to get CF, Strength and the Running & Swimming in there too. I have 2 events on this week which take up space in my calendar where I’d otherwise be improving myself – that said, one of them is at a Steak restaurant so….you know….that might work too 😀

Yesterday AM @ CF Watford

3 x 3 Front Squats – 60/80/100kg. I intentionally kept it light, knowing I had more to come that day.

  • 20 Dumbbell Snatches
  • 30 Toes To Bar
  • 40 Box Jump Overs @ 24″
  • 800m Run
  • 40 Box Jump Overs
  • 30 Toes To Bar
  • 20 DB SnatchesCFW

Time: 14:56 Rx. This was supposed to be a partner WOD of double the reps but I was the odd man out; I still did the 800m Run though. It seems that it was a pretty fast time by comparison. Only the Toes to Bar were broken, everything else was done in a oner.

amrapplusoneEvening AMRAP Plus One Strength, Duathlon Training

  • Power Clean 2×3 @ 70%, 3×3 @ 75% – 62.5kg and 67.5kg
  • Power Jerk 2 x 3 @ 70%, 3 x 3 @ 75% – 62.5kg and 67.5kg
  • Straight Leg Deadlift 3×5 – 67.5kg

All light; I am forcing myself to trust in this programme, despite it having some pretty light stuff in there. I might usually be hammering myself at 85%+ otherwise. However, perhaps the light load was perfectly timed, given that I then had:

  • 2.4km Run
  • 1km Swim (Pool)
  • 2.4km Run

This is a slightly awkward one because I have to run with a rucksack to carry swim gear, water, ID card, wallet, phone, etc. The run was therefore never going to be fast, and it wasn’t. The swim was my first taste of what

being within a pack will be like – the pool was full, the lanes narrow and there were very different standards trying to train. It made it all extremely difficult to keep any pace or cadence but worthwhile as I ploughed through the 40 lengths. After that, a jog 2.4km back to camp, trying hard to will my body to move a little faster with each stride but feeling like I was pulling against a thousand invisible hands dragging me backwards.

And then Bed.

I find myself in front of the computer now, at 0640, having attempted to head over to the gym for my Strength session but having returned; feeling like a Zombie, hands and legs a little sore, fingers wrapped around my Ospreys RFC coffee mug. There was no way I was getting anything meaningful done this morning. I took a quick look at the CF Watford session tonight and realised that I can fit the two together rather neatly and so can sit here, eat my oats and start the day more sedately.
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Fatigue in the Legs, Energy in the Mind

Laziness is Nothing More than the Habit of Resting before you get Tired

– Jules Renard

Having added endurance swimming and running training to my programme, and incorporating the AMRAP Plus One Strength programme, these legs are tired. I don’t mind admitting it but this morning’s WOD was a labour. At only 10 mins long, I had expected to motor through it but the Burpees slowed me right down; there was just nothing in the tank. I really did will myself on too; I pushed myself hard but it just felt sluggish. I have to expect this and get enough food and rest onboard to compensate. In the mind, I am extremely motivated right now. I’m enthused by the challenge coming up in June and can’t wait to get the wetsuit on and in to open water. As long as I can maintain this mental energy then I’ll find the means to overcome the physical fatigue.

AM CrossFit Watford Coaching

Strength

3 x 5 Cleans w/ 3 x 3 Clean Pull supersets.

With a class of 13, I wasn’t able to fit this in and I don’t mind. There were some more newbies in and I was keen to get them moving properly; besides, I have my strength programme going on anyway. A big shout out to xxxx and xxxx for top efforts this morning.

MetCon

10min AMRAP

  • 10 x Toes to Bar
  • 10 x Power Clean @ 60kg
  • 10 x Bar over Burpees

To get some energy going so early in the morning, I split the class in to 2 even groups and had them cheering each other on. With only a 10 min WOD, this was simple and it really worked too; 6am sessions are not normally known for the same levels of overt enthusiasm that you see from the 1830 crowd. It tends to be more of an ‘inner strength’ kind of period. This morning as really good though and as a coach it was excellent to be a part of. As I mentioned above, my own experience of this was not the best, despite my own willingness. In total, 5 rounds and 2 Toes to Bar. The burpees, while unbroken, slowed me down. The Toes to Bar were unbroken for rounds 1-4, with just a break at number 7 for round 5. The Power Cleans were very tough, I won’t lie. I got through the first round unbroken but after that it was 6+4, and then 5+3+2 for the remainder.

PM Running & Swimming

Last week’s 5 Mile Run (38 mins 30 secs) was pleasing and I know I’m in a good place. With a 1km Swim on Sunday in 21:45, I feel in a secure place.

So, tonight, I was going to do a 2.4km Run, 1km Swim and 2.4km Run. But having realised that my trunks and goggles are 235 miles away at home, I have taken it as a sign and am putting my feet up!

20170416_115537

 

 

Easter Week Training. Open Water Swimming, Long Distance Running. And Weights :D

Easter Week Update

Swimming

What a beautiful scene. Tranquil harbour, blue haze, warm sun.

Utterly ball-freezing British water.

Yes, at only 10.4C, I don’t mind admitting that I was nervous before diving in and shocked to the core once in. It took almost all my reserve to pretend it was fine, look cool, and swim off. For my first open water practice of the season, I’d hoped for 600m but in just a 3mm Shortie I made it a mere 400m before deciding that the shivering was hampering and semblance of style I may have begun with. Besides which, I quickly realised why swimming wetsuits are designed the way they are; attempting front crawl in a suit made for body-boarding / messing about in the surf is really tough, especially in the shoulders. I can’t wait for my new DHB swimming wetsuit to arrive today! Longer distance this weekend. 


Running

In training for the South Milton Sands Swim/Trail Run, I’ve also started pushing my running figures up too. Yesterday saw 5 miles in 38:45, the furthest and fastest I’ve run in a very long time. Indeed, according to Beyond the Whiteboard, it’s a pretty good time for a CrossFitter. I don’t mind admitting that I’m going to aim for faster than that, with an average pace of 7:30 per mile by the time of the race. I think that this will allow me to keep under 8:00 per mile after a 1km Sea Swim. I hope. Maybe.


Strength

And, not to rest on the simple monostructural events, I’ve been digging in to the AMRAP Plus One Strength Programme too. On day 10 now, I still feel like it’s a bit of a transition phase, having not lifted beyond 80% of 1RM in either Clean or Snatch. I see that from next week this starts to increase though and so am very much looking forward to that. I did love getting my improvised squat rack out too!

Nutrition 

Despite it being Easter hols, I’ve been pretty good and have logged everything still. Ok, sure, the macros have become a bit unbalanced in favour of carbs but that’s a function of modern family intake, especially at Easter time, and a demonstration of me not being in overall control. Overall KCal have remained pretty steady at 2300-2500 though and so I’m happy for this week. Besides, it’s a holiday period and you can’t take these things too seriously when at parties/picnics/beach/cinema.

Confession, the Open (success), Reboot

Where is your journey taking you today?

 

Forgive me, dear readers, for it has been approximately 2 weeks since my last blog post. Since the end of CrossFit Open 17, I have been a bit lost and have struggled to find the motivation to open the WordPress machine and start tapping away. In all honesty, 17.5 didn’t go well for me; I over-revved in the early rounds and died in the latter, recording my worst individual CF Open WOD this year. Worse even than 17.1 when I was ill. It was my own fault and I felt like I’d wasted the Open this year, let the box down, lost credibility, rah, rah, etc…..

However.

While my scores on Beyond The Whiteboard have proven to be low this year, it would appear that I SMASHED my Top 25% target in the Open itself! Yes, winners, I actually hit the top 17% of Individual Men Worldwide and top 14% of Masters Men (35-39) Worldwide. I can put this down to one major factor:

Beyond The Whiteboard is a measurement of Rx versus Rx only – there is no accounting for non-Rx/Scaled scores, unlike the CF Open where a huge percentage chose Scaled.

I knew this would be the case in advance but didn’t think the difference would be so stark. To confirm my improvement, I went back over the last 2 years and compared against the same criteria (position as a percentage of all those who completed at least 1 WOD, either Rx or Scaled). I have improved in the competition over the last 3 years, despite heading in to my late 30s. Without wishing to be too over-confident though, Strength has still proven to be my Weakness. The 3-month squat programme of last year gave me more in mid-weight Thrusters / Olympic Lifts than it did for all-out strength. Something to review for this year.

So, all in all, it was pretty good really. Next year – top 15% within the same criteria.

South Milton Sands Swim/Run, 25 June
I alluded to this a few months ago when I signed up but yes, I have entered a 1km Sea Swim / 15km Trail Run Duathlon in June. Completely at odds with any strength work I want to do, I have opted for an endurance competition. Swimming has not been a strength of mine really and I am proper excited about this. Follow me as I prepare for this challenge (more mental than physical, I think!). 

I kicked this off on Tuesday with 2.4 Km Run, 1 Km Pool Swim and another 2.4 Km Run. All this in under an hour, including changing room nonsense, unknown route, etc

AMRAP Plus One Strength Programme

At the same time, I have begun a Strength programme from AMRAP Plus One. I know, I know…how can I carry out strength training and endurance training at the same time? Well, while I do want to complete the Duathlon, I just want to complete it. I have no aspirations of a placing, it’s just for my own fun and challenge. With that in mind, I’ll be simply getting miles under the feet and water under the arms to a point of confidence. I won’t be spending every day out pounding the pavements or floundering in the sea. My overall focus is still strength but I’ll assess as I begin to head in to this.
Nutrition

MyFitnessPal is awesome. That’s it. In Jan, I set myself the task of getting to my Summer 2016 form by end of Feb 17. I achieved that and more. Through careful consideration of exactly what I eat, as well as precisely how much, I have lost a noticeable 4-6% body fat. I feel swifter, with no loss of strength and improved endurance. I highly recommend getting a set of kitchen scales and a MyFitnessPal account.

Ok, I’ll finish there, that’s enough of a catch up for now. I’m motivated again and promise it won’t be as long next time!