CMC 101: What is it and why should I care?

WHAT THE HECK IS THE CIVILIAN MILITARY COMBINE?

So, you’re thinking about joining our team for the Civilian Military Combine, but you’re still not quite sure what it entails. Well, beyond encouraging you to visit the CMC website and watch their awesome pump up video, we figured it was about time we wrote a post about it.

To give you the quick and dirty version, the CMC is a combination of a short, high intensity workout, known as “the Pit”, immediately followed by a 4+ mile race packed with military-inspired obstacles – climbing walls, crawling through mud, pushing sleds – that kind of stuff. The race was co-founded in 2010 by Matt Keller and Sean Rogers, two former college roommates. As mud races gained popularity, they participated in their fair share, and while they had a blast doing them, they felt there was an element missing. They wanted to add a piece that would require athletes not only to excel in speed and endurance, but also strength and power – enter: The Pit. Moreover, Matt and Sean both have close military ties, and they wanted a way to bring both civilians and military together to raise awareness and honor those who have or are currently serving. Thus, the Civilian Military Combine was born.

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HOW IS THE CMC DIFFERENT FROM ALL THESE OTHER MUD RACES THAT I HEAR ABOUT? 

Two words: The Pit. The Pit is the revolutionary piece that is completely unique to CMC. No other race has anything like it. The combination of the Pit and obstacle course has attracted thousands of hybrid athletes that do not specialize in one aspect of fitness, but aim to excel across the board – from power and strength to endurance, agility and speed. In other words, being well-rounded instead of specialized works to your advantage here.

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Another cool thing about the CMC is that 80% of participants register as part of a team. This doesn’t mean that you have to remain with your team throughout the entire race (yes, I know some of you are super competitive), but you all enter the Pit in the same heat and start the race together, and let me tell you that knowing you’re surrounded by a team of your biggest supporters as you walk into the Pit is HUGE!

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WHERE DOES A2A/POWERCAKES COME INTO THE PICTURE? 

Having participated in a couple of CMCs in the past, we were beyond AMPED and honored when Sean contacted us about creating a team and having a presence at the race this year. So we met with him (over a workout, of course), and were immediately blown away by his energy. Those who have run the CMC before might recognize him as “the guy on the mic.”

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His enthusiasm for CMC was infectious, and we could tell right away that this is going to be a huge year for them, and that we wanted to be a part of it. As we began putting a game plan together and reaching out to people about joining our team, we thought of our good friend, Kasey, AKA of Powercakes, and thought, why not team up with another fitness powerhouse, create a super team and race the CMC together?!

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HAVE YOU RACED A CMC BEFORE? WHAT WAS IT LIKE?

We were introduced to the CMC a year ago, by our good friend and trainer, Dennys, and signed up for our very first race in New York City last April. We weren’t really sure how to train, so we just continued working out like we normally do and threw in a “Pit Practice” once a week. It was a FREEZING cold spring morning and 7 minutes of the Pit left everyone sounding like avid smokers, but we powered through, pain faces included.

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The obstacle race for this one was short and sweet, just like we like it! A prowler push immediately followed by a sandbag carry up a gazillion flight of stairs, a few walls, farmers carry, cargo net rolls, and BOOM, we were done!

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Once we finished the race, all we could think about was signing up for the next event in September, which we did immediately (after a little post-race celebration…)

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September rolled around and we were stronger, faster and ready to rock. It was a much nicer day, and the atmosphere at the venue was infectious. There were dozens of teams getting amped up to compete – from gyms, Crossfit boxes, and random groups of friends. The energy was pretty incredible. As they called our team into the Pit, we each jogged to our stations, where our judges introduced themselves and reviewed each of the movement standards with us. As the countdown began – 3, 2, 1…GO!, the butterflies in our stomaches were in full force, and we once again why the heck we signed up for this. Once we started though, adrenaline kicked in, we found our own grooves and we kept pushing. Each time we wanted to stop and just lay there on the ground and catch our breath, we told ourselves, it’s only 7 minutes! You can do anything for 7 minutes! Plus, our judges were super encouraging and kept telling us what a great pace we were keeping, which helped a ton. Julia ended up going well beyond her expectations, outperforming her April performance by a long shot with 161 reps! Kayte rock in with 153 – a solid performance by average2athlete and our entire team!

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We then had about 2 minutes to recover before we were sent off into the obstacle race. The beginning was a nice jog, which most of us used as active recovery as we were still coming down from the Pit. We were then faced with about 3 miles of obstacles, from hopping over walls to crawling through mud, climbing cargo nets and pushing heavy sleds. It seemed to fly by because we were having so much fun. Even though our entire team got separated during the course, we were surrounded the entire time by athletes who were in the same boat, facing one obstacle at a time, helping each other over walls and coaching each other along the way.

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Crossing the finish line was a great feeling, especially knowing we had a cold beer waiting for us, but the best part was watching the other athletes coming through and seeing the combined look of pride, relief, and exuberance on each and every person’s face. Pretty awesome.

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We can’t wait to race again this year – not to compete, but to run alongside our teammates as they get to take part in this same incredible experience.

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And of course, to enjoy a post-race beer with a bunch of awesome athletes!

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OK, I THINK I’M INTERESTED…BUT WILL I BE ABLE TO HANDLE IT? HOW DO I TRAIN?

Don’t worry, we have you covered! To start, this year’s Pit includes 4 different variations of increasing difficulty, so that any athlete can participate, regardless of their fitness level or limitations.

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The folks at CMC will be posting videos with the movement standards for Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta very soon, so stay tuned.

As far as training, there are several things that you can do, and we’ll be helping you along the way:

  1. a2aWOW: Those of you who follow us on Instagram may have noticed that for the past several weeks, we’ve been posting workouts that people can do at home, requiring little to no equipment. These are typically meant to increase “metabolic conditioning” – aka get you read for the Pit. So take a look and start doing these if you haven’t already.
  2. Training Program: Taking the a2aWOW a step further, we’re going to be creating a training program for you guys. We’ll put together a calendar that will most likely include a day for the a2aWOW, a day to practice the Pit, a day of strength exercises (designed to increase your pulling strength for things like climbing over walls) and an endurance day, to help you conquer the obstacle course. Be on the lookout for this to appear mid-March!
  3. CMC Meet-ups: CMC will be hosting a series of meet-ups throughout the New York area, which will give participants the opportunity to practice the Pit and meet others who are doing the race. We will be attending several of these, and will let you know the exact dates and times.
  4. a2a-Powercakes Team Meet-ups: We will also be hosting our own meet-ups and will keep you informed via social media on dates/times.
  5. High Intensity Training – Learning how to push your body to maximum capacity and increasing that threshold is going to be the biggest factor in training for the CMC. Whether you are following our workouts, training on your own or with a trainer, taking classes or CrossFitting, high intensity training is key.

THIS BLOG POST WAS SO CONVINCING, I’M IN! WHAT DO I DO NEXT?

It’s pretty simple – all you have to do is follow this link to our team page and SIGN UP!!! Use the code CMC20 for $20 off. And stay tuned for more updates!

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On To The Next One! Looking forward to a great New Year after an incredible 2013

I can’t believe we are only days away from New Years Eve and the start of a brand new year! It’s been way too long since my last post, so I thought that I’d share a brief recap of what I’ve been up to this past year!  A new year filled with infinite possibilities always gets me thinking about what I hope to accomplish in the future, so I’ve also decided to share my goals for 2014!

My 2013 Year in Review

I started the year off with a bang and had 2 amazing trips with the NBA just before we started this blog.  I was lucky enough to travel to London in January to cheer for the Knicks vs. Pistons Game during the London Live series. Then in February, I traveled to Julia’s hood, Houston, Texas for the NBA All Star Games!

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In March, Julia and I decided to partner on a Health & Fitness venture to inspire & motivate and help people find their inner athlete…thus, average2athlete was born! We’ve had such an amazing time making videos & posts, trying & sharing new recipes, developing our page & our voice and mostly interacting with so many awesome people via instagram, facebook & the blog!  If you are reading this now, Thanks for following!!  Our first event after a2a was born was the CMC Intrepid event in April.  If you haven’t done so yet, check out our recap!

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In May, we started our first a2aChallenge….a modified 25 day Whole30 Challenge. (Side note: We are starting another Paleo Challenge January 2nd if you’d like to join!)  At the time, I had no idea that this challenge would double as the start of my competition diet!  In June, after about 4 weeks of prep, I competed in the Fitness America New Mexico pageant, where I ended up winning the Fitness division and earning my Pro Card!

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The month of June ended up even better than it started!  Not only did I run my first ever 5k race with the Clean Water for Haiti Organization, but my sister was married June 22, and I celebrated my one year wedding anniversary all in the same week!

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Moving onto July, every year my family friends and neighbors volunteer for an adaptive water ski clinic with Three Rivers Adaptive Sports.  This is one of my favorite weeks of the year.  There are so many incredible athletes that come out to ski….it’s so inspiring and a good reminder of the important things in life!

"If I can do this, I can do anything."

“If I can do this, I can do anything.”

The remainder of the summer held a Wedding in Vegas, being crowned the 2013 Equinox Burpee Champion, a Tough Mudder, an abbreviated neighborhood triathlon – named “Mini-Thon”  and another CMC event with some of my favorite fitness friends!!

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The Fall was almost as jam packed as the Summer!  It started it off with a Bachelorette Party in Nashville, complete with a Bull Ride and Line Dancing! I also went hiking for the first time in upstate New York at Mohonk and I can’t wait to go again!

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In October, I was given the opportunity to go on another amazing trip around the World with the NBA for the Global Games Pre-season circuit.  We got to travel and perform with the Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers & Philadelphia 76ers in Spain, Philippines & Taiwan!

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As the fall wrapped up and winter officially started, I had one more Wedding, a great Thanksgiving with my family, the most unbelievable surprise 30th Birthday Party EVER and an amazing Christmas week!

That’s a tough year to beat, but I’ve been taking some time to think about how I can grow in the new year.  While I don’t love the idea of a “News Years resolution” that can quickly be abandoned, I do like the idea of a fresh start…a time to set some new goals.  I wanted to share my goals for the year so you can help keep me accountable!

2014 Goals

Fitness

1.) Be more active on the blog & write more frequently!  Stay tuned for more frequent posts in 2014!  And let us know what you want to hear about by sending us an email average2athlete@gmail.com

2.) Be more consistent with my nutrition.  I do so well when I have a short term goal ahead of me, but its not always easy in between to stay away from the sweets! I am hoping that the Paleo challenge that I mentioned above will help start the year off right!

3.) Try new things!  Specifically, in the next 12 months, I want to do Crossfit, Soul Cycle, Yoga, Olympic lifting & go Rock climbing.

4.) Program for myself and stick to it.

5.) Improve skills – Pull-ups, Pistols, HSPU, Muscle ups & Double-unders.

Career

1.) Group Fitness – Get certified & start teaching classes.

2.) Further my education with additional workshops & certifications – Crossfit, KB, Animal Flow, TRX, FMS.

3.) Build Private Training Business – Expand private client base in NYC as well as virtually.  (Send us an email for more info!)

Financial – SAVE MORE…..Duh! 🙂

Spiritual/Social – So these are a little more “Big Picture” & more of a guideline or a vision than actual goals, but I think they are a good reminder of how I want to live my life.  So I am going to print these out along with my goals to hang on my wall so I am reminded everyday!   (P.S. I’m a sucker for quotes, and a lot of these go along with my favorites!)

1.) Be present, Live in the moment.  Don’t stress about the future and forget about the past.

“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done.  One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.”

2.) Don’t set limits.

“The only limitations we have are the one’s we set for ourselves.”

3.) Remember what’s important. Find the good in people and take each relationship for what it is.

“Be Kind; Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

4.) Don’t speak poorly of other people and don’t judge them.

“Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.”

5.) Enjoy a little downtime & appreciate each days accomplishments.

Let go of the need to do more and be more; for today, you’ve done the best you can, and that’s enough.”

6.) Stay positive. Volunteer. Make a difference.

That about wraps it up!  If you made it this far, thanks for reading!!  We would LOVE to hear about you goals, so send them our way!

Happy & Healthy New Years to you & yours!

Best,

Kayte

Team Sparta: CMC Intrepid Recap

Last weekend, we competed as a team in the Civilian Military Combine (CMC) on the USS Intrepid. For those who are not familiar with the CMC, it’s an obstacle race that supports Operation Homefront and the Heroes of Tomorrow. While it’s similar to a Tough Mudder or a Spartan Race, there’s one additional element that is unique to the CMC, Hell The Pit. But before we go into the details of the race, we want to introduce Team Sparta.

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  Our team was made up of 12 awesome athletes, evenly split between ladies and gents. We all love to train, and we also love flexing.

 Ok, back to the Pit. The Pit is a workout that you complete before the obstacle course. For this event, the Pit was a 7 minute AMRAP (as many repetitions as possible) of:

 7 Push-press (45lbs, girls/75lbs, boys)

7 KB swings (26lbs, girls/40lbs, boys)

7 Box-jump over burpees (20” box, universal)

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  I’m pretty sure our faces say it all.

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 After 7 minutes of the Pit, it would be nice to lay down and take a little rest, right?. WRONG. You have 90 seconds to recover or grab a sip of water (if you can swallow in between gasps), before you’re “released” into the obstacle course.

Because the event was held on the Intrepid, the obstacle course was a half mile sprint, which consisted of a sled push, sandbag and water bucket carries, crawling through nets and lots and lots of climbing.

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  We were one of the only teams not from a Crossfit box, and we came in 18th out of 48. Not too shabby!

 We were pretty happy with our individual results as well 🙂

Pit Obstacle Course Rank
Kayte 144 reps 9:05 5/188 females (and first in her age group!)
Julia 142 reps 10:20 10/188 females

 And even happier to be finished!

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  The atmosphere on the Intrepid was incredible. Despite the freezing temperatures (ok, maybe it wasn’t that cold but it was on the water and some of us may not have worn enough clothing…), everyone was amped to be participating in such an exciting event. The judges were all super supportive as well, cheering on each and every athlete and encouraging them to get out every last rep. And it was cool to see people of various athletic backgrounds in all different stages of their training come together and give it a go.  Really goes to show that you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it!

Since we each approached the race slightly differently, we thought we’d also give you a recap of the event from our individual perspectives…

Kayte

 I was a little apprehensive about this race.  For the last 2 months, I haven’t been training for power or working on upper body strength because of the pinched nerve in my neck.  I wasn’t even sure I would be able to participate until the doctor gave me the “OK” 1 week before.  On the Monday before CMC, I decided that I should go for a test run of “The Pit” in a closed environment.  I got through the whole 7 minutes at a moderate pace and didn’t feel any additional pain, so I made the decision to go for it!  My goal was to just get through the day without hurting myself.

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The morning of, I was a little anxious, but as Team Sparta started to gather at the gym, I began to get more and more pumped!  We all seemed to feed off of each other’s energy, which is the great thing about doing these events with other like-minded, positive athletes who inspire you.

Although I hadn’t trained for this specific event, staying active and doing what I was able while injured, along with a solid base of power and strength that I have from years of training, allowed me to be able to complete the course at a competitive level.  The course involved a lot of climbing, and I’m pretty much a monkey with my gymnastics background, so I really felt comfortable with the obstacles.

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 Despite being able to get through the course without serious preparation, I really felt the effects of it afterwards.  My shoulders were so sore and I couldn’t lift my arms up until Wednesday without being reminded of the CMC on Saturday!

Julia

Signing up for the CMC was an easy decision for me. I sort of have a hard time saying no to any type of physical challenge. Plus, a couple of my teammates did the CMC in Brooklyn last September and wouldn’t shut up about how awesome it was, so I knew there was no chance I was missing out on this one.

 As someone who always likes to be thoroughly prepared, upon signing up I immediately visited the CMC website and watched the Pit instructional videosso that I would know exactly what each element entailed (no way was I going to get a “no rep!”). I practiced the Pit once a week for about a month, and even though I knew exactly what to expect the day of, my stomach was still doing somersaults as we waited for the countdown to begin. There really is no other feeling like pre-race nerves!

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 My performance during the actual event was pretty much on par with my performance in practice. But it felt SO much harder. I don’t know if it was because I hadn’t properly warmed up, or if I was just having a bad day, but by the time I was on round 3, I wanted to lay on the ground in the middle of my burpees and not get back up. Luckily, the screaming judges and rowdy crowd were enough to push me through, and the 7 minutes of torture finally ended.

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  Even though I know my score was definitely above average, I was slightly disappointed because I had been hoping to do a little more with adrenaline kicking in and all. But, at least I know a couple of things that I’m going to do differently in my training next time: use heavier weight and practice lateral box jumps (that part really threw me for a loop). I’ll also be incorporating more running and climbing stairs with sandbags and medicine balls in preparation for a longer, more rugged obstacle course.

It was a pretty amazing day all around, and we could not be more proud of our team’s performance. Check out more pics of Team Sparta in action here.

 Oh, and the day obviously would not have been complete without a few post-race beverages.

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 So what’s next? Several members of Team Sparta have decided to sign up for the another CMC in Camelback, PA on May 18th. Follow our workouts on Instagram (@average2athlete) to see how we’re preparing, and let us know if you’ll be there too!

 Now, time to start training…

 Kayte & Julia