I have not been this sore in a very, VERY long time.
Saturday, my CrossFit box not only had the opportunity to judge the the Civilian Military Combine “PIT,” but we also got the chance to compete in the race too! Those of you who have been following Strong Figure know that obstacle course racing is something I LOVE, and the CMC was my FIRST ever OBC race. I’m forever loyal to the CMC and will always stand by it as my all-time favorite event. Let’s face it: no one combines a CrossFit pit with a military-style 6+ mile mud and obstacle course. It just doesn’t get any better than this.
Saturday’s event, in a nutshell, was freakin’ awesome. The weather pretty much sucked…it rained on us about 65% of the time, but fortunately it never rained hard and the temp stayed well in the 60s. “Liquid sunshine” is what CMC announcer Sean called it.
The day started with 55 CrossFit Harrisonburg members judging about 15+ heats of the following PIT workout:
- 7 minutes–as many rounds as possible:
- burpee box jumps (over the box)
- kettlebell swings
- push press
Men pressed 75 lbs, women 45; and men swung the 45 lb kettlebell, women swung the 26. The top male of the day hit about 191 reps and the winning chick got 171. You readers, know the second and third place PIT winners.
Yeah, I might have gotten second place in the PIT, but I also might have made a fatal error Saturday because something I did–or didn’t do?–caused me to CRAMP up like I’ve never cramped before. My friends are probably tired of hearing this story–sorry!–but let me say, and not for the last time, that I’ve never felt pain like I felt Saturday. Erik thinks that because almost all my friends cramped up really bad, it might have been because we were PIT judges and were standing all day and then didn’t properly warm up before running. It couldn’t have been a hydration issue–at least on my end–because I drank over a gallon of water plus coconut water the night before, and then 40 oz before running. But something happened. Because right after the PIT, literally within the first minute of starting the race–I collapsed.
I’ve never actually had a muscle cramp on me the way my calves cramped Saturday. I mean, I’ve had quad cramps that have made me drop to the ground before, but that was more like an “Oh my god my legs are jello and I can’t feel my quads” feeling. I’ve had a lot of sore muscles, and after my first CMC I couldn’t move. After my second, I was simply walking slower–especially up and down stairs. This one? My legs are in trouble today.
After the PIT, we grabbed sandbags for the first part of the race. My calves IMMEDIATELY started cramping. Roommate, friend, and fellow CrossFit addict, John, told me later that his calves were cramping at that same time too. But mine wiped me out. I went over one 4 four-foot wall and collapsed. Erik immediately started massaging my calves and after a few minutes I was able to get up and keep moving. But I was too far behind at this point. I lost my team and all my box members too. I ended up running about 85%+ of the race, alone and at my own cramped-up pace.
Which was kinda cool in a crazy way. Running through the woods seemed so peaceful, beautiful, and serene. At one point while running alone in the woods, I remembered running through this same exact spot last year during my first CMC. I remember it because it was near the latter part of the race and I was holding the necklace I have of my dad’s, and just thinking about him; he had passed away only a few months before. Yesterday, during this particular stretch of wooded area, it was not short of amazing that while the entire world seemed still, four gorgeous leaves picked themselves up off the ground in front of me and floated up, and brushed directly past me–right in front of my eyes. I said out loud, “Thanks Dad!” and placed my hand over his necklace, again.
But while I was silently enjoying the beauty of nature, life, and all the wonderful moments one can have connecting to such a beautiful moment, I was still in pain. About 30 minutes in and my left knee started hurting pretty bad. Soon after, my right hip felt pretty screwed up. And within 45 minutes, both quads and inner thigh/quad muscles were toast. I actually expected my quads to cramp. They almost always do. And I’m pretty good–knock on wood–at dealing with it.
And I dealt with it by using my upper body. Which is also sore afterwards, but in a good sort of way, not like my lower body. Because I was running the majority of the race alone, I had to figure out how to climb walls that were somewhere between 8-10 feet tall–all by myself. (PS–I’m five foot nothing.) With cramping quads I couldn’t really use my legs to step up on the small boards built in to help. I had to jump. I only had one miss–out of about 10+ walls, so that wasn’t too bad. And I’m actually pretty damn proud of myself. I pulled myself up and over SEVERAL walls with just my upper body yesterday. The CMC race made me accomplish things I didn’t think I could do–and probably wouldn’t have done if I were running with others. I may not have run a fast race, but I accomplished something big.
I wish I could fill this entire post with pics from all the obstacles…but unfortunately I haven’t figured out a way yet to take my iPhone with me through mud, rivers, sludge, dirt, rocks, tunnels, sand, galore. I’m really hoping those who raced Saturday will read this, comment, and post some pics! But judging from posts that I read on the CMC Facebook page, most people’s fave part of the day was either the PIT or the water obstacles. I’ll admit, the water was better than I thought it would be. A) It was cold and felt GREAT on my legs, and B) The obstacle with the 10 or so logs you had to either climb over or swim under was amazing. What a challenge!
Some of the other obstacles included rope climbs, wall climbs, crawling through underground tunnels, wooden bridges, slippery slippery slippery mud and rocks, crawling under barbed wire, running through rocky rivers, climbing hay bales and rock piles, rope nets, a ladder climb that MOVED while you climbed it–scary!–and of course the actual mountain-side terrain and ski slope challenge. The ski slope is what got me in the end.
I got up the slope no problem–short legs + big quads = easy climbing. The down hill got my calves again. I actually got through about 6+ miles with my calves NOT cramping after the initial one at the beginning. But out of no where, while I was literally flying down the slope, they hit. Both calves, big time, bigger than before. I dropped and thank God Erik and Reagan (who had already finished the race about 30 minutes prior) came to find me at the exact time I went down. My calves–left one more than the right–was SOLID. I cried. I screamed. I beat the ground with my fist and gritted my teeth as Erik dug his hands into the muscles to relieve the knots. Every time he would get one out, another would pop out. He told me later that it looked like golf balls were popping out of my legs. All I remember was never feeling pain that intense and just screaming in agony for him to make it stop. I don’t know how long it took, but I just thank God he was there. I got up and limped, and finished the race with Reagan by my side. A few more walls, a couple nets, a fireman pole, more water, and the finish line. I found Sean, and told him that this was the first CMC to make me cry.
But in the end, I finished, and I didn’t let anything stop me. I did things I didn’t think I could do on my own, and I pushed through some major pain. I’m still a little disappointed with my run, but my PIT performance has left me thrilled. Honestly, after hearing about how my team and training partner just FLEW through the course in only an hour and a half, it really makes me want to train harder and get even better, and faster. Maybe even run a little too. And that’s why I like competition. You’re left with three things: Pride, your flaws, and the ability to eat whatever you damn well please for the rest of the day.
I asked a few of my friends what they thought about the race and here’s what they said:
Terri: My favorite part was the energy! The course was harder than last year in my opinion and I loved that they made the some of the obstacles a little more difficult. I didn’t like that they changed the placing. (see below) Some of the more natural obstacles were my favorite, the water, hills, muddy banks, etc.
What Terri means by the “placing” is that the CMC used to award the top male teams, the top female teams, and then the top coed teams. This year they changed it so that they only awarded the top coed teams. BUMMER since we specifically put together a team of all girls. Terri and I have run all our CMCs together and we’ve placed in them all…come to find out yesterday, after thinking we might have won, we were totally let down to find out female teams weren’t even registered competitively. If I had known that, would I have put myself through such pain towards the end? Probably. But still–that’s a HUGE let down.
John: There were too many walls but the rest was delightful.
Abby: I thought it was very muddy but AWESOME!! Definitely would do a CMC again! My favorite part had to be the various obstacles along the course. I loved how we were in the water, in the mud, jumping over walls, rope climbing up muddy hills, etc; it was constantly varied along the whole course which kept things interesting. My least favorite part was one obstacle–the obstacle with that dark tunnel that you had to crawl through. I hate crawling through dark tunnels more then anything. The energy in the Pit was pretty awesome as well.
Dixie: I liked having the pit along with the race; unique approach. Well organized, well run. Great energy. Music was awesome! The course was an appropriate level of difficulty. Racers would have to face a few potential fears – heights, closed spaces, water. The helpers were well-placed throughout the course and there was an appropriate number of water stations. Varied terrain, test of upper body and lower body strength and endurance. The rain added an extra element that made it a bit more challenging; they don’t control that but I liked it. I would like to see more varied obstacles than just another wall again and again and again. No smoking allowed around the pit!!! Sean did a great job of keeping the energy up with the rain–definitely did all he could. It was nice having a good race close to home. Well marked course. Women’s shirts that fit women that lift weights.
Reagan: I loved the CMC!! The trails were beautiful and the obstacles were very well done with lots of variety! I loved all the ladders to climb over and the water obstacles. All of the volunteers were encouraging along the course and very helpful! I would encourage everyone to do the CMC! And Abby I agree!!! I thought that only one of the 3 tunnels would lead out when it was pitch black in there… I almost turned around!!!
Joe: I liked the pit–great way to get things going, and by the way Steph and Reagan, way to beat all us boys in there! The distance was perfect although I didn’t feel like I was running all that much. I guess it was further than 800 meters so that was interesting. I could have done with far fewer walls they just got annoying, never difficult, just annoying. The most challenging part was simply the big hill climb, that is where I lost a lot of time I feel like. Great location–so much variance in the course; I really liked the water aspects and the natural obstacles. All in all a fun race–much more engaging than say a tough mudder–maybe that because we got to judge and see everyone.
Trevor: I loved the lake and crossing all of those logs! There was a lot of positive energy, and everyone was just so excited to be there! I enjoyed the amount of variation from tunnels to go through to “quick sand mud” haha. Overall I loved the CMC and already started looking at some more races to do!
EJ: The chocolate muffins for breakfast were spot on! Haha! (Yes, the CFH judges were fed some awesome food! Thanks CMC!)
Jill:I really enjoyed this OCR event. The pit was an added element to truly test one’s fitness/mental capabilities, I was unsure how it would effect the run. The cold river, water crossing early on was a wake up call but warmed up on the run afterward. I enjoyed the varied terrain we ran. Not so muddy, or at least plenty of opportunities to rinse off, which was nice. I personally loved the steep banks with ropes and having to climb up. Also liked running in the streams for a challenge.
The barbed wire crawl was pretty short compared to others like the Spartan and there was only barbed wire at the front and back. The tunnels were not too bad, you could see light at the end, which is always encouraging. And, the container obstacle at the end was like a fun adult playground set.
Great group running the event, weather could have been better but it was the “wild card” obstacle that varied throughout the day. I can’t wait to try another or do it again.
Oh, and the breakfast, I agree, not Paleo friendly!
Side note–Jill placed 2nd in the female master’s division! Way to go Jill!!
Please tune in to Strong Figure’s Facebook page! I’ll post pics from the CMC photographers so that you can see all the obstacles, and I’ll update you with scores, times, etc., from race day. Our crossfitters at CFH kicked butt BIG time. Many of our racers finished this course in superb time!
Let us know in the comments below, what was your favorite part of the CMC? Or if you’ve never tried one, what questions do you have for our participants?
Click here for more info on the Civilian Military Combine.