On May 18th I competed in my first Civilian Military Combine. While I have competed in many running and lifting events, this is the first event I have ever done that combined the two and it is the first obstacle course race I’ve experienced.
I have always known almost exactly what I am training for- in Powerlifting, it is always Squat, Bench, Deadlift. For races, I know the distance, and have an idea of the terrain, that I will need to travel over. With the CMC being new to me, there were only two things I was certain of- “The Pit” and the fact that I would have to cover 5.4 miles of hilly terrain.
“The Pit” consists of a series of a 45lb Push-Press, a 26lb Overhead Kettlebell Swing, and a Burpee/Box Jump combination over a 20” box (slightly higher weights for men); 7 reps of each, in succession, as many times through as possible in 7 minutes. From “The Pit,” you transition to the starting line of the course, and within minutes (3-5 from when you finished the all-out 7 minutes of “strength” exercises) you’re off and running.
The course had everything I had anticipated based on information from the website- a wave pool at the start, ladder walls and a-frames to climb over, steep uphills, crawling under “barbed wire” in mud, and sandbags to carry. Something I didn’t anticipate- their idea of “trails” differs a bit from the image I had in my head. Yes, I knew I would be running through the woods. Yes, I planned on there being some roots, rocks, and maybe a downed tree on the path. Yes, I knew there would be some muddy areas and that we would have to cross a stream or two. But I did NOT imagine that we would be travelling through what looked like untouched woods (other than the tape that showed us the boundaries for the race). I hadn’t planned on “running” IN streams between ankle and thigh depth water.
The terrain had me going much slower than I had planned on- I walked more often than I ran. It also had me completely thrown on gauging how far I had gone, and I didn’t wear a watch, so when a volunteer at a water station told me I was at the half way point, I was incredulous- it felt like I had already gone 4 miles! At that point I adjusted my mindset on how long things would take (and how long it would FEEL like they were taking).
This is one race that as the closer I got to the finish, the farther away it seemed. Towards the end, another volunteer let me know that the rest of the way was downhill. For a lot of people, that’s exciting. For me, I know I was going to be slowing down. On gradual downhills, I can open up, have great control of my stride, and fly. But these hills were steep, not to mention full of dips and divots that had to be avoided. So, I cautiously jogged my way to the final “obstacle” which was the lazy river- probably the least enjoyable or exciting element of the race because I had just pushed myself for 5+ miles through crazy terrain and obstacles (plus the 7 intense minutes in “The Pit” before I even got on the course) and now I was finishing at about a 3mph pace trudging through hip level water.
Despite the anticlimactic finish, I had a ridiculously wonderful time. I had more adrenaline dumps that day than during any other event I’ve done, and I really had to push myself. There were also plenty of areas I know I could have done better on, so that is exciting in and of itself since I performed pretty well considering it was my first event like this (147th overall, 37th female overall, and my team came in 5th overall out of 120+ teams). This is an event that may have to become a staple on my yearly competition calendar.
Thank you to my sponsors Heavy Athletics Nutrition, S.T.E.P.H. Massage Therapy, and ChiroSport for being part of my success. Training is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to performance.