Saturday, August 4, 2018

CG Games Prelims July 14 & 21 2018

Trainer making sure camper touches toe
Having participated in CG Games Prelims two years ago, I had no intention of doing so again. Once and done! Two years ago there were four events to get through, this year five. I am also two years older and slower. With far less endurance. I had surprised myself in 2015 by actually finishing the events. The Games also were after USATF Masters Outdoor Nationals. Not so this year. What was the chance I would get injured? (Achilles?) Plus, it would take away from time to train for track. So I was not interested in doing them again.

Yet, I did. Justification being, well, I could go to the Saturday training sessions (which did impinge upon my track training) but that did not mean I would actually do the Games. I squeezed in track and field practice on Sunday or, once schools ended for the summer, during the week, even after a morning CG session. I just reduced the number of iterations or focused on only one thing while at the track.

I missed one training session while in South Carolina at a Masters Meet, so at Game time there was one event I had not done except for portions during CG Camp sessions. I knew that the Endurance event would be horrid. This one entailed four approximate 400m runs, two with a 15 pound sandbag, the other two without the bag. One performed three exercises , the first with 10 iterations, the second 20 iterations and the third 30, followed by a weighted then unweighted run then repeat mat work and runs. I could not do either weighted or unweighted run without many walks. The first, or maybe it was the second, time I did it, it had rained and we had a light drizzle pop up whilst at the Saturday session. The training took place at a local park and the run portion was partially along a paved area, a short dirt path and two wooden bridges. This time I was wearing softball cleats as had been suggested previously since much of our other run related events were on grass. Rubber cleats on this day was a bad move! When I hit the second bridge, I had gone no more than two steps when my feet were flying forward horizontally, head headed for bridge I hit banging my head a little then got up. Asked if I was okay by a few ahead of me, of course I said yeah. But I gingerly proceeded to the end of the bridge and the next times passing over it, I walked slowly and held the railing. It was still slippery. Rubber cleats and slippery wet bridge do not go well together.

So there was that. One other event, the Agility entailed the icky shuffle (along a ground ladder, repeating two steps in, one out) and a six inch yellow hurdle to jump over ten times. I was a disaster at the icky shuffle when I first encountered it. Want to talk about crone meeting agility? Coordination not my strength. The brain would not coordinate the feet. Eventually, I got it (after my trainer patiently went over it with me and with subsequent practice, initially along with help from some hard cider and a CG trainer at a CG party, and the rest in my driveway.) The hurdle petrified me. Several years ago during a pre-Christmas indoor session, five or six were placed for us to jump over as we ran forward. Terrible. I hit them, missed, and had a mental collapse over not being able to pick my feet up enough. So, I dreaded this portion of the Agility.

The Strength event required initially a prone position lifting a 15 pound weight alternating arms, twenty times. The elbows had to go above waist. That was followed by ten, then eight, then six iterations of pushups followed by raising a 15 pound sand bell from below chin to above eyebrows. It ended with a repeat of the alternating arm lifts of weights. I could manage that,

When the Prelims arrived, there was still one event I had not done and that was the Peak. Those of us doing the Prelims arrived July 14th at Durham County Stadium before 06:30. Many were nervous, pacing, worrying, chatting. We were checked in, our contestant number written on our arms, and off to participate in a rah rah group warmup exercises. Some were a bit too exuberant during this, almost knocking one of us off balance. Then, it was off to queue up for the event one wanted to do first. I had two that I knew I would not do well in and wanted to get them over with. I am like that – get the most dreaded thing out of the way first. I chose as my first, the Endurance. There was a very long queue because the event was short a few trainers and some trainers were timing two competitors at once. These folks are so brain adapted, they easily handled tracking two at once with a stop watch in each hand. Actually, quite impressive. For this event, Amy was the trainer with the mis or good fortune to get me.. All trainers were equipped with a thin rod, used to indicate if ones body or appendage (knee for instance) was not high enough (In Strength, the knee had to rise to the level of a cone when doing pushups.) I watched those ahead of me. Some struggled a bit with the second round of mat exercises, some got wiped by the track runs and some had no problem at all.

Endurance Event section.  Note the sticks.

I got through the ten sand bell thrusters, twenty squat jacks, and thirty high plank toe touches okay, though the thrusters just about wiped me of breath.

trainer timig while camper does thrusters
Trainer intent on another trainer's toe taps. Loved watching this!

 Now came the part I dreaded. I picked up the fifteen pound sand bell and began my trot. One had to trot from the starting point in any lane all the way back to the start, drop the sand bell, and trot around again without the weight. The Endurance event was being held on the far curve of the track. I barely got a third of the way in front of the stands before I had to walk. My pals in the stands yelled for me to move to lane one. So I did. I trotted and walked the rest of the way. I carried the sand bell behind my neck. When I went to shift it forward so I could drop it by the start, it slipped from my hands and hit the ground. Tick tock. But I was not going for time, just completion. Picking it up, I dragged self back to the start, dropped it and went out again. The unweighted lap was not as hard but I still lacked energy. I was using this lap to catch my breath. Back at the mat I repeated those exercises, willing myself to get through the thrusters without stop. Finally, the dreaded laps again. They did not get easier. I finished in 15:40.29.

Next, the Peak event. A fellow Camper, planning only to do a few events after having had to miss about a month of Camps, decided she would do it with me. More than she'd intended. Of course, with our other pal watching, egging us on, this sort of made it a pseudo challenge. I managed to get Trainer Dea, the trainer who had herded me two years ago in a similar event. Though the day was warm, I did not need gloves to keep from burning my hands. I had to bear crawl, dragging a fifty pound speed sack (a sack loaded with sand bells) weight to the fifty yard line. I was beginning to feel my quads go at about thirty yards but got the bag across the fifty yard line. The return trip consisted of tossing a 15lb sand bell forward then broad (frog) jumping to it, hands touching ground, followed by dropping chest to bag before progressing forward. Sort of sucks the air out of one. I had gotten a tip from a fellow Camper during our Saturday practice times to take short hops rather than long (like I could broad jump far! NOT!) We had practiced some but not all the parts of this event.(I could see my fellow Camper in my periphery vision, ahead) Back at the start it was turn around and just throw the sand bell to the fifty yard line and back to the start. So far so good. Still breathing. Now pick the sand bell up and run to the speed sack at the fifty yard line, turn around and drag the sack backwards to the thirty-five yard line then run forward to the start line to finish. (The other Camper and I finished close to each other. Terrific for her since she was working her way back to full strength) Amazingly, I was not as winded with the Peak as I had been with the Endurance event. It took me 8:02 (eight min 2 secs)

The third event I did was the Strength event, I had done this several times during the Saturday practices, but I found it tougher this time around. This is where a stick might be used if one's limb is not high enough. Twenty high plank dumbbell rows, followed by ten, then eight, then six repeats of hand release pushups each followed with the same number of sand bell overhead presses, The last set of overhead presses were tough. The final plank dumbbell rows were almost a relief! This one took me 2:53.

Three down, two to go. I took some time to sit and chat with pals before attempting the next event which I had decided would be the one with the yellow hurdle, the Agility event. It was a time to watch and cheer on those I knew who were doing the nearby Endurance, running the track. That was a nice thing about the Games – so many one knows, in all shapes and conditions, giving their all to the events they chose to do. One whole group, from Dea's CG Camp, was there all dressed in blue-purple shirts touting being from Da Block (Dea's Camp) encouraging each other in each event; running along with a runner on the track.

Time for Agility. I had been practicing the icky shuffle in my driveway so thought I could do that and the running and shuffling okay. I drank some fluid (I accidentally left the can of BANG! at home. It had BCAA (Branch chain amino acid) which someone had posted helped recovery. Having looked it up in the USADA and 411 list, I thought it would be okay. Yep, sure was – sitting on the counter at home!)

Earlier there had been a hurdle out on the field to practice with. I had decided to try since I had never jumped sideways over one and dreaded it. I had the option of stepping one foot at a time over, which would entail a 30 second time penalty. That would be okay. Time was not a factor. Coming in last would be fine – as long as I could do all five events. When my turn came I decided to try the hopping over the hurdle. What was there to lose? If I knocked it over, I would just pick it up and do one step at a time. Agility starts off with a sprint box drill – forward, side shuffle, run backward, and side shuffle again. Not a problem. Now, the hurdles! I got all ten hops done. Yippee, Next the icky shuffle followed by the in and out of the small yellow circle. Run to a corner cone then back diagonally to repeat the sprint box drill and done. My time in this one was 1:19.

CG Games Agility Event

The last event, Interval, was another one I dreaded. The 70 second time during practice had always found me way behind the eight ball and walking the last sprints, totally wiped. In other words – an ugh. One sprints out 15 yards to pick up a cone, run it back and toss over the start line and, importantly, touch the start line with your hand before sprinting out to the next cone (except for the last cone of a set, when one just runs across the line) . At the 15 yard line there were two rows of four cones. The object was to grab all four before 70 seconds was up so one had some rest time because once the time was up, you had to go get the next set. Each participant had a trainer timing them. Once a set of cones was completely back, their timer stopped their clock (meanwhile the master 70 second count kept going. At the end of the 70 seconds there were three tones then a whistle which started the next 70 seconds. One false start was penalized – two and one was out.) The next set of cones was at 25 yards out, consisting of two rows of three cones each. The last set was 35 yards out, two rows of two cones each. 

 One really had to conserve energy because that clock seemed to start up again real fast. By the time the 35 yard sprints began, not much was left in terms of energy. Somehow, I got through this without walking once. I was not fast and there was oxygen deprivation but I got through it. I was very happy that I did not walk. One factor could be that for two weeks, ending a week and a half prior, I had been on medication to reduce any lung inflammation since I had been having trouble running even a block. I also may have managed my speed better (slower) in the real event than I had in the practices. My time was 4:36.

I got all five events done in one day. This I considered the highlight of my year. I had not initially thought I would get through these, but with the help and support of others, I did.

I returned the next weekend, July 21. I was going to take photos and cheer but ended up re-doing three of the events. Why not? I was there. The weather was cooler (overcast actually) and sometimes I just like to challenge (punish myself). This time on the Endurance event, I screwed up some of the mat work – missing a hand touch on the squat jacks, having to redo, and I messed up one thruster needing to redo. The horrid runs were a little better – fewer walks but still slow. This time my time was 15:10. The repeat of the Strength event was only a little better 2:49 with the Interval being the best at 4:15. I was not alone in seeing better times. Many others said their times had substantially improved. Two years ago, the results were similar for those who came back the next weekend and repeated. Part of it may be that the fear is gone. One is familiar with the event and already has a time, so what if they do worse? They might, however. improve. Which many did.

I mentioned watching folks encourage each other. I again saw that this second weekend. Matt running and encouraging Jolene, a mom of a seven month old baby, around the track. Jolene is typical of a CG Camper. She is dedicated, went to camp almost up to child birth (crazy folk) and has stuck with it. Dea's folks chanting and getting their person to the end of their event. So many of the Campers are happy people. Smiling even after the worst and always trying to do their best, while supporting those of us in a lesser category.

Many of our RDU Trainers and Campers qualified for the Finals in Austin in November. Nationwide, their percentage of qualifiers in relation to relative size is impressive. Last year, they came in first in several of the team categories and quite a few competing individually were in the top twenty. As they had the year before. Such drive and enthusiasm shows. I loved watching the trainers compete!  They are such a close group and competitive.  Serious stuff.  They put so much into it that they are wiped when done. This shot typiffies (at the end of her Endurance event.) I had the luxury of being in the Recovery Boots watching from outside of the field.

In Women Super Masters category, age 50 and above, 434 women nationwide had registered. Of those 434, 245 did some but not all events and 190 did all five events. (what happened to the rest? Injury, other commitments, weather, or not enough confidence?) I ranked 105 of the total 245. Shocking, actually. I was hoping to be next to last and would have been happy to be last. Really happy that I did better than I expected. Event and ranking within

                                Endurance     Interval        Peak                 Strength       Agility
Louise Guardino 105 15:10.88 92  04:15.32 93  08:02.40 117   02:49.25 154  01:19.78 169

I strongly doubt I will do CG Games again, however. Even one year can bring degradation. Besides, I don't want to be the oldest who ever did them. And, why push one's luck?

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