First Annual Gaucho Gauntlet Recap

Found this hanging out in my “Drafts” from last summer.  Figured, why not get a little sunshine out there in the middle of winter:

It’s been so long since I posted a blog that, one, I totally forgot my login and password and, two, I had like 5,800 spam messages and ten software updates to go through before I could even get to writing.


Enter the First Annual Gaucho Gauntlet.  For those of you not in the know, a Gaucho is a thing that has something to do with UCSB… that’s all I know (sorry John, you’ll have to educate me sometime).  A Gauntlet, apparently, is a 6 hour adventure race through the campus of UCSB and surrounding Goleta.

Since it was the first ever, we really had no clue what kind of race it would be: typical hardcore off road race or fun casual urban adventure.  Either way, it would be an active day outside in a beautiful area.

The race started at the Rec Center on campus where we were given a map, a quick briefing on the rules and our first clue.  Yes, A CLUE?!  That was new and also a really bad sign since Jess and I had no clue about the surrounding campus or area.Gaucho2

The first clue basically said a bunch of words that meant “Go to the pool –  jump off the high dive to get your next clue”  As soon as I saw it, I was cracking up and Jess went pale.  “We have to do WHAT???” Luckily for her, only one of us had to take the plunge, and I, being the gentleman that I am, volunteered.

After that, we basically went from clue to clue using a combination of running, mountain and road biking and kayaking to get to the finish line.  Along the way we repelled off the soccer stadium, slack-lined in the park, climbed a rock wall on the beach, and kayaked around the Goleta beach pier.Gaucho3

We didn’t come in first, but we also didn’t come in last, which is a miracle since we basically knew NOTHING about the area or the campus and had to figure out the clues by guessing.

All told, we went a total of 14.36 miles in 4 hours 36 minutes and after all was said and done, our goal was achieved: we spent an adventure-filled day outside in a beautiful town.

Return to Sender: 5 Tips for the Come-Back

IMG_1551Rock climbing is a never-ending cycle for me.  I get into it, I start to get really into it, I start feeling strong… I move (or the seasons change, or I have critical gear lost or stolen, or… you get the point).  It always seems to be two steps forward in this sport, and then one or even two steps right back for me.  I was at the climbing gym last night, scratching and clawing my way up a route that I knew I could have done before, when it really struck me that this feels just like trying to jump back on the Crossfit wagon after an extended hiatus.

I got that same feeling I get when I’m staring at the barbell on the floor, chalking my hands for the 18th time, trying to egg myself into picking that stupid thing back up, all the time knowing that I’ve done this WOD before.  It’s right THERE in my log book “RX’d 8:32” as my watch ticks on past 10 minutes, 11 minutes…Grimace

Luckily (or not), this isn’t my first rodeo.  I’ve been off and back on too many times to count (or at least to write here, I have some pride you know?).  It usually just takes a deep breath and to remember that this isn’t a time to get frustrated: This is an opportunity.  An opportunity not only to work my way back to my prior level, but an opportunity to get there smarter, and to be even better when I get there.

There’s no shortcut back to the top of the route or the PR log, but I have found over the years that there is a right way to approach a comeback.  Every time I’m about to freak out and start throwing my chalk ball at people or smash that stupid clock I go back to these 5 tips.

  1. Think about the end at the beginning
    I like to take a minute to think about WHY the hell I am doing this to myself.  Some may disagree, but climbing gets way more fun as you get better and can downright suck at times as a beginner.  As for Crossfit, well it can just suck sometimes, especially when your head is writing checks your body can’t cash – if you know what I mean.  For me, I like to have a purpose or be in the process of training for something bigger than the tasks at hand.  So think about where you want to get and why you want to get there before you get in the trenches of quitsville.yosemite
  2. Make a Plan & Set some Goals
    This goes hand in hand with tip #1.  If I set goals like: climb the East face of Mt. Whitney, compete in a local Box’s Comp, or complete the Motherlode multi-day Adventure Race, and make a plan to get there, I am much more likely to push through the moments of suck.  These goals should be “SMART.” Specific – Measurable – Attainable – Relevant/Rewarding – Time Based.  I like to set intermediate goals along the way toward the final step.  Something I can reach and throw a little personal party for.
  3. Mechanics, Consistency then Intensity: Focus on Technique
    This is the killer.  It’s sooooo easy to ramp back up too quickly to where I was performing before my break.  This is where I have to put my pride aside (I said I had some left) so I just humm this little mantra over and over “mechanics, consistency, intensity” as I do another set of super light squats to re-dial those cues or same-side-in traverse up that 5.6.  Jumping right back on the RX wagon or jumping on that V5 before I’ve got my mechanics and technique back to a subconscious level always leads me to injury or failure.  SquatFor Crossfit, my first weeks back always look something like this:
    Row 500m
    Run 400m
    CF Warmup
    Wendler 5-3-1 Lift (With at least 10lbs off of my previous PR for the baseline values)
  4. Be Patient & Flexible
    It’s tough to tell when I’m truly ready to push the gas pedal and go for it.  I have good days where I feel strong and then, it turns out, I wasn’t quite there.  My general rule is, when I think I’m ready to start pushing the limits again, give it one more week.  You’ll thank yourself later when you are outperforming your previous PR’s instead of back on another injury break.  Flexibility is also key: What happens when I miss that first intermediate goal because of a last-minute trip or a cold? Just quit? Nah, I just add a week to my timeline or cross it off and move on to get the next one with a little more gusto.
  5. Enjoy the process
    Super important for me.  I can’t always just focus on that main goal as the final reward, I have to enjoy the path it takes to get there.  Not every second, sure, but every once in a while, think about what you are doing NOW and enjoy it.  Have fun with it.  I like to actually schedule in some fun in my plan like a really cool climbing spot in the mountains or beach, a social workout like the Murph WOD on Memorial Day, or a fun short AR or Orienteering event.    BarbellsMakeMeSmile

Well, that’s it. Wish me luck on following my own advice as I climb back on that wagon (literally, well… not really literally), and hopefully some of these tips can help get some of you back in the game.

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