Part 2: People I met at the California Regionals

The man, the myth, the legend! Coach Glassman himself. What a privilege this was.

GG1

I have to admit that I was a bit starstruck meeting the founder of CrossFit . The OG himself. He was incredibly approachable and friendly. He happily signed my shirt. He asked us some questions about where we’re from and which affiliate we belong to. Whether we were enjoying the Regionals. One of the highlights of the trip for me.

GG2

See my previous post about meeting Jamie Hagiya.

Part 1: People I Met at the California Regionals

Over the coming days I’ll post some photos of the interesting people my friends and I met when we attended the California Regionals of the CrossFit Games in Del Mar, San Diego.

The first athlete I was able to meet and get a photo with was Jamie Hagiya.

IMG_5591

What a class act. Jamie came out of the warm up area and interacted with fans for a good few minutes. She was super-friendly. She laughed with us and posed for photos. I posted this photo on Instagram and she even responded.

Capture

The Ireland reference is because my Cape Town accent prompted Jamie to ask where we were from. Answering, ‘Dublin’ was obviously confusing since I didn’t add California. It was cool to share a laugh with her.

Look out for Part 2.

Did any of you attend any Regionals events? Did you meet anyone fun?

 

#InTheOpen

The 2017 Crossfit Open is about to start. On Thursday at 5pm PST, Dave Castro will announce the first workout – 17.1. I’ll be glued to my computer screen waiting anxiously to see what he has in store for us.

intheopen

For the uninitiated, the Games website describes the Open as follows:

Where grassroots meets greatness: Compete with hundreds of thousands of athletes in five workouts over five weeks. Do it for fun, your affiliate family, fitness or to reach regionals and fight for a chance to make it to the CrossFit Games.

Every Thursday for 5 weeks, starting on 23 Feb 2017, a new workout is announced. Athletes have until the following Monday evening (5pm PST) to complete the workout and submit their scores for that week. Every competitor is then ranked – regionally and globally. Eventually, at the end of the 5 week period, the best-of-the-best in every region secures a spot in the Crossfit Regionals. Their next test on the way to the main event, The Crossfit Games. In 2016 there were 324,307 participants – 58% male/42% female – from 175 countries.

In 2016, I had been doing Crossfit for about 6 months and the other athletes at my box, I Will Crossfit in Dublin, California, convinced me to sign up as well. I was quite reluctant because I had little experience and I felt I would not be able to complete many of the workouts. In the end, I was so happy I did sign up. The Open cemented my love of Crossfit. Before the Open, I considered myself a runner (hence the name of this blog) and a triathlete who had started Crossfit to add some strength work to his routines. After the Open, I eventually stopped running and triathlon training to focus on Crossfit and increasing my skills and abilities and fitness in that sport. I have not regretted that decision for a second.

The Open gives you an opportunity to test yourself against others in your box, in your region, in your age category, in the world. Somehow, due to the atmosphere and intensity that seem to prevail throughout, you find yourself trying new movements and skills for the first time. If you’re fired up enough, that’s often when you achieve one of those moves. Last year, 9 people in our box got their first muscle up (me included). And that feat was repeated all around the globe. It was an amazing feeling. I scaled some of the workouts and others I did as prescribed. This year, I plan to do them all prescribed.

dory-rx

So, if you’re uncertain about whether to sign up for the Open, my advice to you is ‘GO FOR IT!!’ You won’t regret it. You’ll love it. Stop back here every week for updates on how I’ve done. If I do the workout on Friday or Saturday I’ll let you know how my strategy went for that week – did my rep scheme work, how much time did I take between reps, and that sort of thing. If I find any useful tips online I’ll post links to those as well.

Good luck. I’ll see you #InTheOpen.

PS. I know there is a ton of jargon in that post. Let me know if you need me to elaborate on anything.

Conditioning Day: Embrace the Pain


This was a tough but good WOD.  After our coach said 3-2-1-GO, most of the athletes took off at quite a quick pace. My comment was ‘it’s a marathon not a sprint!’ When I saw the workout posted I decided that I was going to aim for a steady rather than quick pace. 

I’ve recently managed to figure out how to do kipping toes-to-bar so I felt ok about those. I just had to keep moving. I broke them up into sets of 5 with a 5-10 second break between each. This worked well throughout because I was able to maintain a steady pace. 

The double unders were sooooo frustrating. Every time I think I’ve learned how to do them properly it gets programmed into the WOD and I realize I haven’t. The most I managed unbroken was 6! So I lost a lot of time doing these and I have the whip marks on my legs to show the struggle. I need more practice!

Wall balls! At the end of each round. This is where the suck really set in. Again I broke these up into sets of 5 or 10 with a 10 second break between each set. Slow and steady. Despite this I was so tired at the end of each round that the run in the next round was more like a shuffle. 

In the end I didn’t finish before the time cap was reached. I managed to get through the 30 double unders of round three. I did continue and completed all 150 reps of all  4 exercises. I was so finished at the end I could barely form coherent sentences.

If you’re looking for a great conditioning workout give this one a try. Scale where necessary – knees to chest/single unders/manageable wall ball weight. Let me know how it goes. 

Pony Express Half Marathon: Race Report

Lining up at the start

On Sunday, 1 May, I took part in the Pony Express Half Marathon in Sacramento, California. One of my friends from the UK was visiting the Bay Area and wanted to get a race medal from the USA.

We left my place at 4:30 am on Sunday morning and drove the one and a half hours to Sacramento. I wasn’t feeling particularly confident about the prospects of a good time because I hadn’t trained as much as I wanted to. My long runs were nonexistent and the day before I’d had a 3 hour testing for my red stripe in Kuk Sool Won. Excuses, excuses. I know.

Anyway, we lined up near the Capitol Building and the start pistol eventually sounded about 10 min late. We decided that we would just run to finish not to push for a PR or anything like that. My friend had just completed the Brighton Marathon a couple of weeks before this race so wasn’t ready to go too fast yet. Our aim was to hit a time of about 2h5 m. He set his fancy Garmin Forerunner 920xt (check out this great review by DC Rainmaker) to help us keep the right pace. During the first half of the race we were ahead of the pace and feeling pretty good. I knew we’d slow down in the second half but we figured we’d get some minutes in the bank just in case. We finished 10km in around 57m.

The first half of the course takes you over the Tower Bridge and then along the Sacramento River Bike Trail. This was a gorgeous section of the race and I could appreciate the calm water of the river because I was still feeling ok. The second half of the course goes through residential areas with beautiful homes and well-manicured lawns. As predicted, we did slow down over the second half of the race.  There was a well-stocked water-station at every mile handing out water and electrolytes. In the second half, we walked through most of these to give our legs a short break. This helped a lot because I developed a blister on my right heel (wrong socks!!) and all the kicking from the testing the day before was catching up with me.

Along the Sacramento River Bike Trail

Anyway, despite the blister and the tired legs, we still finished strong and came in at 2h11min. Slower than we’d planned, but not by too much. I was extremely happy with that time given that I’d not trained as hard as I should’ve. It was a great way to catch up with my friend – we hadn’t seen each other in about two and a half years.

Happy to have the medal

All-in-all, a well organised race along a nice course. Enough water stations with friendly and efficient volunteers who were in good spirits throughout. The course was well-marshaled with race volunteers and the local police force at some of the busier intersections. There was a great selection of post-race goodies too – water, chocolate milk, fruit, pretzels and craft beer from Yolo Brewing. I definitely recommend it and I’m planning to return next year.

Official race photos were free

Warp speed. Thoughts on speed and strength.

Warp Speed

A selfie on the move – Mr Sulu would be proud

I had a good run to work this morning. The weather cleared up overnight but the temperature was still rather low. The sun was just coming up. A cold and crisp Spring morning. Perfect for running if you have enough layers and a pair of gloves. I had a couple of random thoughts during the commute.

I decided to try my 5K route. I haven’t run that one in a while and I need to start upping my mileage ahead of the Pony Express Half Marathon coming up in May. My initial thoughts were mainly on how slow I felt. This is a constant thing for me when I run. I feel slow. I feel like I’m making no progress in the speed department. It didn’t help that I had the traffic lights conspiring against me as well. It seemed like I had to stop at almost every one of them, making my average pace drop. Interesting then, that the selfie I took on the run makes it look like I’m flying along :-).

My thoughts also veered in the direction of the Crossfit Games Open. We’re 4 weeks in with one more workout to go. What an experience this has been for me. Up to now, I’ve only competed in events like half marathons and triathlons. A couple of cycle races. I’d never considered taking on anything which tests your fitness in the manner that the Open does. From the Crossfit Games website, it is described as follows:

The CrossFit Games events are made up of a broad range of functional movements. Functional movements move large loads, long distances, quickly. These movements also form the basis of our exercise program. Make no mistake—the CrossFit Games are designed to test, not train, fitness. The goal is to find the fittest athletes, not to produce an easily replicable workout program.

Is ‘replicable’ a word?

The Open is the first installment in the Games. Competitors from across the globe log onto the Games website every Thursday at 5PM PST to find out what the workout of the week will be. They then have until the following Monday at 5PM PST to submit their scores for that workout. The top athletes move on to the regionals where they compete for a place in the big event, the Crossfit Games.

I’ve never considered myself strong (still don’t) and have tended to focus on my cardio training rather than strength training. I’ve been doing crossfit since the beginning of September 2015 so I didn’t think I was ready to enter the Open. After a bit of convincing by the coach, however, I signed up along with 17 other box members from the I Will Crossfit affiliate here in Dublin, California. I’m so glad I did. The workouts have all been tough but I’ve enjoyed all of them. I’ve learned some new skills along the way (double unders and muscle ups) and identified loads of things I need to work on (general strength and hand stand push-ups to name two). I’m excited to find out what the final workout will be. I now have a benchmark for next year – yes, I’m already planning to enter the 2017 event.

So how do these two random thoughts link? Well, I started crossfit in the hopes that gaining extra strength would translate into gaining extra speed and endurance. In the California International Marathon in December last year, I felt that my endurance had definitely improved. My finish time was a new PR so I guess the speed was there too. However, I’m not sure I’ve maintained that speed. This is all part of my nervousness as an event approaches. I’m looking forward to the half marathon in May. I haven’t run one in a while. I can’t wait to test myself. I’ll let you know how it goes.

What are your tips and tricks for increasing speed? Fartleks or Yasso 800s? Do you do any strength training?