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CMCombine: The Good, The Bad, and The Sickly

It seems like sporting races have been around forever, but the most popular sporting races - Tough Mudder/Spartan Race – only hosted their first events in 2010.  You may have the same reaction I did, which was:  “really?!”  Yes, these fun and wildly popular challenges have only been around for a couple of years.  Despite this fact, I still feel woefully behind the bandwagon in getting through my first solo sporting race two weekends ago. (I did, however, complete a Muddy Buddy – bike/run duo race – in 2010, but its not quite as intense as the recent wave of races).

For this year, I chose to run the Civilian Military Combine, which hosted its first event back in 2011.  Why did I choose this race out of all the others do you ask?  Well, several reasons.  First, my friends who have done other sporting races were geographically inconvenient for training purposes – these races are more fun with friends.  Second, the CMC race offered something a little different that was right up my alley – a strength component.  Third, my fellow FiTMAPPED co-founder, Anita, is a CMC ambassador and knows the awesome founders of this unique race.  Finally, and what was most convincing, one of my favorite fitness studios, As One, was hosting a team – again, these things are more fun with friends.

When I decided to run this race, I was pumped – I am pretty sure I used the term “crush it” as how I wanted to finish this race.  This is because despite finishing countless 10k races, two 10-milers, and four half-marathons, I still don’t really consider myself a “runner.”  This is mostly because I am not fast.  I finished one half-marathon barely under two hours, but that’s probably as good as I’ll get (I’m proud of it!). The CMC offered me a chance to even the playing field with a strength component, since I am not a girl that is afraid to lift heavy.

If you haven’t heard of CMC, it is a 5 mile obstacle race that starts with what they call “The Pit”.  The Pit is 4 strength exercises: Box jumps, Burpees, Squat Thrusts, and Kettle Bell swings.  You do each exercise for 90 seconds with a 30 second rest in between.  Then, after 8 minutes of torture, burning up your muscles, you are sent off into the race.  The race is scored by combining your reps in The Pit with your race time – and it is curved based on the person who does the most reps and the fastest time.  It is very “Cross-Fit”-esque.

I have to credit As One for putting together a great training program.   For the last few months, the instructors held meet ups three times per week at the studio to practice The Pit exercises – free of charge.  Usually, we did a class before or after pit training, which made for an extra intense workout day.  In addition, on Saturday mornings, I met another As One member in Central Park for training runs that consisted of running a 1/4 mile then doing some strength exercise (push ups, sit-ups, burpees, etc) – and we built from 2 to 5 miles.  The week before the race As One hosted a Pit + Run workout to simulate race day.  Between that plus my regular weekly workouts, I was very ready for the race . . . but then . . .

The week of the race I started to get a scratchy feeling in the back of my throat.  I convinced myself that it was allergies, and I would be fine.  By Thursday, I knew I had a full blown cold, and I was devastated.  The day before the race I felt terrible – weak, congested, fever, the works.  I woke up on race day feeling extremely crappy.  So, I just medicated up.  There was no way, after countless 5:30am wake ups to train and staying in Friday nights for Saturday runs, NO ABSOLUTE WAY that I was missing this race.  And I finished it.  I didn’t finish as strong as I would have liked – I got 130 pit reps (49/100 pts), finished the race in 1:16:06 (71/100 pts), putting me at 120 points or 219 out of 419 women.  Not too bad for someone who woke up that day unable to breath through their nose.

With respect to the race itself, I really would have enjoyed it had I not been running on half a lung.  There were about 30 of us from As One, which made it all the more fun since we started the race together!  All the obstacles were tough, in a good way, climbing over tall ladder structures, under wires, through tunnels, carrying sandbags, etc etc.  Also, it was certainly a team effort, and I was glad that I got to run alongside friends.  I remember one moment in particular, towards the end of the race, I was running towards a large container over which I would have to climb.  At this point, my lungs actually hurt when I would breathe.  As I slowly approached the obstacle, I saw Mark Merchant from As One, waiting for us, hanging back to make sure the whole team made it through, that little bit of encouragement was just what I needed to get through the rest of the race.  Also, as we rounded out the finish of the race, my fellow As One team members that had finished were there cheering us on to help us finish the race strong . . . tear.

I would most definitely run this race again – hopefully, in a much healthier state respiratory speaking.  I do wish the race organizers had a few more water stations, but that is my only complaint.  All in all it was an amazing challenge that gave me a reason to train hard and take my workouts to a higher level.

As an epilogue, I am still sick – apparently running the race with a cold caused my poor lungs to be a bit over-sensitive, and with the weather, I have asthma-like symptoms.  Meh, it was still worth it!

Have you trained for a race with your favorite studio?  Which Race/Studio?  Did you enjoy training in a group?

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