It’s a matter of timing

My first day in the Philippines was typically Filipino. I did nothing and I did everything all in the same day. Team manager Matt Cullen, who lives in Manila, reckons that if you paln to do 6 things in a day and accomplish 2 then you are doing well. That’s kind of how the day turned out for us. After a bit of sleep, I went with Matt to pick up the uniforms from the supplier that were supposed to be ready at 2:30. We left the store at 4:30 the delivery was just happening on Filipino time.

Normally this wouldn’t be much of problem, but Matt had been invited to bring a few of the National team players to appear on the broadcast of the local sports show Hardball. We were supposed to be there at 5:00pm and there was no way that we were going to make it across town until the studio rang us and said that the shoot might not happen at all but keep heading towards ABN-CBS. Matt was confused and I was amused. It just seems that nature runs its course in the Philippines where fate is more in control of what and how you get things done. It can prove infuriating, but when you don’t really need to be anywhere and you have no real stress on your life then it ends up a little comical at times.

Make-up time

Anyway we may it to the studio on time. Make-up and some time in the green room before Matt and I were joined by Kit for the interview. There were a few other lads from the team as well, but I guess the format is to have a max of three guests, so the remainder looked pretty in the background. Including one, Kenneth Stern, who kept flexing for the cameras. It was a pretty amusing interview with all the regular rugby cliches coming out. I think it airs on Philippine tv tonight at 9:30 so I am interested to get a look. Anyway the pics of our little adventure.

In the green room

As far as training, when things run on Filo time you kind of just take it as it comes. I had been planning to get a bit of an interval run in, but I was feeling really jet-lagged at the end of the day so I went to bed instead. It was probably a wise choice and I’ll work out with the boys tomorrow afternoon. I figure a taper that includes 3 days off with one of those a travel day and one my daughter’s birthday I can’t really complain. Though I am itching to get a workout  and some running in tomorrow.

Mic'd and ready for action

Travel time approx. 30 Hours

May 23 and it is off to Manila. I finally finished packing my bag at about 3am! Part of that time was spent soothing Brynn and chilling on the couch with her at about 2am. Definitely going to miss being able to kiss her and watch her grow for the next three weeks. With the bag packed and passport finally back in my possession Julie drove me to Raleigh-Durham International Airport for the start of my trip. I officially classed my trip as starting with the 1 1/2 hour drive to RDU.

Check-in to Delta and off to Detroit??? I didn’t really get it either, I thought that I would at least head out of the eastern time zone on the first leg of my trip. I was in Detroit for about 5 hours. I used my time wisely in the airport, I bought my Indian travel adapter and I watched CNN on the big screen in the airport. That was kind of weird, massive projection screens throughout the airport with CNN on. I wonder how much that costs them in advertising. The pic is my attempt to capture the cool water fountain that is in the middle of the airport. It was a really cool feature with different time spouts making different patterns.

Then it was off to Tokyo. The only problem was we got delayed at the gate for over an hour! That turned an 11+ hour flight into a 12+ hour flight and I was sitting next to a guy who when he fell asleep would slump his arms into my chair. Most of that flight I stood in the exit area since the Delta agent had given me an exit row. The flight wasn’t too bad, I played my PSP, drank lots of water and spent a lot of time in the bathroom consequently!

Tokyo was supposed to be just an hour layover, but for some reason it turned into 2 1/2 hour delay! Tokyo is so different. The signs, the toilets (squatting and standing with signs of the door explaining which is what cubicle) and the little plastic versions of the food you can purchase. It was cool being back in Japan, I would really like to spend some time there touring it one day. But eventually we hopped on the plane and headed for Manila.

This was the first time that I have landed at the new Ninoy Aquino International Airport. It is much nicer than the old one, but landing anywhere at just after midnight is pretty strange. Customs was a breeze, but waiting for my bag was very nerve wracking. I get butterflies when I fly somewhere and I have to wait for my bag, especially when it has all of my rugby stuff in it. Eventually it turned up and having what I thought was my name over the paging system I went looking for my ride. As soon as I stepped outside the terminal the smells and humidity of Manila enveloped me. It was a strangely familiar feeling and I was stoked to be back here again.

Precious and Raquel found me at the airport and were in amazingly good spirits considering it was almost 1am when they picked me. A quick trip to the subdivision of Forbes and I was deposited at Peter Lawerence’s house. Peter is an expatriate Aussie living in Manila and volunteered to billet two of the national team boys. After all that travel, I hit the sack. Long day but made it through.

Brynn’s First Birthday

Saturday, my last day before the trip, also coincided with a day early birthday celebration for Brynn. Brynn and I had some quality time together in the morning as we went to CrossFit Greensboro together. I think she knew that something was in the air because she wouldn’t leave me along and I spent most of the time coaching with a little koala bear attached to my hip or leg. After the workout, Brynn impressed John and I by deadlifting a skateboard and walking with it. Crazy a little lady and I think that she takes after her mother!

Brynn’s birthday party was a lot of fun. It was a collision of Julie and my friends from all areas colliding because they all know Brynn. It is weird how interconnected the world is! We had a lot of fun and Brynn got a ton of great presents, for which we say thanks (although Julie and I have our doubts about some of the noisy ones!) and spent heaps of time with friends. I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has supported us during Brynn’s first year. It is great to know that in addition to our families we have a great community on which to rely.

Last day at work

Friday and only two days until I leave for the Philippines. It was my last day at The Club before leaving and I only had a couple of clients come in. The first was David who once again got the short end of the stick. A lot of reps and some unusual implements including tire flips and rope slams. It was a great session and David did awesome. George came in for chest and once again we worked the incline. No PRs today, just good consistent solid lifting.

Then I went to CrossFit Greensboro where Mel tagged along with Ben for his session. I had planned for Ben to do “Kelly” because he had been away for a while and Mel, well she got roped in as well. I decided that not to tell them that they were only doing 3 rounds and the attacked the workout thinking that they were going to be doing 5 rounds. Ben finished with 22:41 and Mel 23:28.

Coaching the group classes was fun. With a short sprint workout, everyone did a lot of skill work before hand, including some sprints. Then Robin stepped up and needed to get a quick workout in after coaching class with me. He attacked Grace and was awesome. We worked out a quick strategy beforehand and I worked on encouraging him to stick to it. The result was a huge PR by over a min. Absolutely awesome to watch someone go under 3 minutes for 30 reps of 135# clean and jerk.

As for me, I got in my last conditioning session before I left. 20 x 100m 90% tempo runs with 30 second recovery. I didn’t realize when I planned to do this but they ended up being overspeed and slight uphill runs. With the road at a grade of about 6-8 degrees I found my downhills were extremely fast and I had to focus on my leg recovery mechanics and the uphill I focused on my knee drive. The second part of the workout came because I didn’t get my conditioning run in earlier I had to do my met con immediately after the run. This made the met con particularly brutal. I did 21-15-9 of 2 1-pood kettlebell clean and jerk, burpees and GHD sit-ups. I haven’t done two arm dumbbell or kettebell clean and jerk in ages and I forgot how unwieldy having two weights can become when you go for speed. I ended up finishing in 12:27, not a bad time considering it was my second workout in an hour.

Basically my three weeks of pre-season for the Philippines is over. It has been a terrific push leading into my trip away. I have been focused and kept up with work even when it got hard. Unfortunately I have to say that my sacrifice was time with my wife and daughter. They have been incredibly understanding and supportive as I have prioritized my workouts ahead of meals at home with them. It is going to be tough leaving them both behind in the States. But at the end of the day I carry them with me and I represent them in everything I do.

Inspiration included

Thursday is always a big personal training day for me. Normally I have a lot of clients and today wasn’t packed. Wilson came in and has been having a tough time of it. We talked about pushing to her daily limit, not expecting that every training session you will be able to have the same output. George came in next and we worked legs. He continues to improve on the box squats and then we finished with some front and sumo squats as well. Then it was off to CrossFit Greensboro.

The WOD for Thursday is rest and today the theme for our rest day was a chipper style workout that included tire flips, bungy cord runs before the real work started. The real work was carrying a single kettlebell 400m and at each 100m mark completing an exercise with the kettlebell. It was brutal because after all of the exercises all the athletes finished with 400m, unweighted, sprint back to the box! Fun times and some amazing performances, but they were all overshadowed but what came next.

John is the head coach at CrossFit Greensboro and believes that we should punish ourselves for getting older, especially to attack our weaknesses. So he set himself a task oriented workout with a time limit equal to his new age, 35min. His task is in the picture above. This is impressive mostly because 350# is a huge deadlift for John being over 85% of his 1RM and a 50″ box jump is brutal. With both of these near max efforts for 35 reps each, it is amazing that he had anything left to complete the burpee muscle-ups. Incredibly he did all of these reps well under the time limit. The one part that I left out is John biggest apprehension in lifting is the heavy deadlift because he has hurt his back doing this before. The mental focus and the courage that he had to attack this workout was simply inspirational.

Making it through

Wednesday is hump day and I felt like it was when I woke up. John’s little triplet left me hurting every, but there was little time to reflect on the pain as I headed into work with George. We hit a heavy back day as he was still struggling with sinus issues. We made some great progress getting a PR at 8RM for bent row with close underhand grip.

Then I headed outside to complete the second consecutive day of anabolic threshold training. 12 sets of 280m shuttle leaving every 3 minutes, the quicker you finish the more rest you get. Unfortunately due to John’s ridiculous workout, my posterior chain tightened every run and it was struggle to get through any of the reps. But I kept pushing and was grateful when I finished my last one. The good thing was that it was a fairly warm and very humid day. The amount you sweat is immense and I know one of the challenges that I will face in the Philippines will be staying hydrated.

At the end of the day I head to the Sportsplex for the Kid’s class at CrossFit Greensboro and when no one showed up for the adult class I decided to do some resistance band squat. The translation to rugby is quite cool because with a resistance band you never stop pushing when you stand up straight, similar to how you reload in scrum without taking pressure off the opposition but reset for the next powerful movement. I ended up doing a lot of triples something along 135# for 4 sets, 185# for 2 sets, 225# for 3 sets, 275# for 3 sets and 295# for 3 sets. I was stoked because I was able to work on my sticking points and my speed.

Being Flexible in Approach

Tuesday was a weird day for me. David had to switch from his usual Monday slot to a Tuesday midday slot because his son Alex was competing in a high school golf championship. David was feeling pretty tired with all of the driving, so we started off heavy then brought it home at the end of the session with a met con workout. George was next and was suffering from severe allergies. We both knew that he wasn’t going to be able to do anything fast, so we went heavy shoulders and he was awesome. Then Steve came in. Being in a wheelchair and having MS has not stopped Steve from wanting to do what everyone else can do, so with a bit of effort we got Steve doing a lot more exercises on the TRX including the row…about which I was very nervous (check out the pics).

Then I went off to CrossFit Greensboro to workout. I had missed a conditioning session the day before cause I was feeling like crap, so I decided that I would anabolic threshold condition on Tuesday and Wednesday with different exercises. Tuesday was 8 x 3min row at sub 1:50/500m pace. This was brutal! I wanted to quit at about the 3rd interval, but I stayed with it. Then I helped coach before sticking around putting up 5 sets of 5 push jerk. This first time that I have put up heavy weight from in front of the head capably in ages. I have been steering away from this lift because of my wrist, but with a bit of recovery time I decided to go after it and got up to 5 reps at 205#. I was pretty happy with this, it means I should be able to get a lot more for just one, but that will have to wait until after the tournament. I finished the day out with met con designed by John to gas me…guess what, he succeeded. Tire flips, 200m run and hip & back extensions. By my second round of tire flips I was hurting, but it definitely reminded me of the fatigue that I feel during games when getting down to clear someone out at the end of the game. So it was good to post a good time of 12:22 and push through the pain.

Sometimes my day, life or situation doesn’t go as planned. The object is to take that into account and make adjustments accordingly. Every day needs to be successful, but success may be as small as taking one step in the right direction or as large as setting a PR. Accepting and working within your limitations can lead you make gains where you don’t expect them.