I an athlete

Despite the fact that CrossFit considers all crossfitters athletes and that I’d already competed in two CrossFit Games Open’s, I haven’t actually considered myself to be a competitive athlete. (Note, at the time of this writing I’ve completed my third CrossFit Games Open.) However, during the summer of 2016 I started reflecting on my Why for doing CrossFit.

I honestly don’t remember where the off and on reflecting of my why came from – most likely from something Scott McGee said during some episode of the Wodcast podcast. I started CrossFit originally to finally get myself in shape to better function as a firefighter. I was barely passing our three yearly physicals and knew that something had to be done. But as time passed and my conditioning, strength and what not else got better I began to notice that just doing the daily WODs wasn’t enough for me. I started hitting some other stuff every now and then either to improve my skills or specific weaknesses or just to get something more.

While Anna and I were helping build CrossFit Paja we were doing a weightlifting program which was good – but it also clearly showed me that pure weightlifting wasn’t something I wanted to do. So I had to face the fact that my why had changed from just wanting to be in better shape as a human and firefighter to something more. Or to be clear, I had to make the choice of whether I would continue training just to be a stronger human or for some other goal.

Since at the same time I was approaching the magical age of 40 and being able to compete as a CrossFit Masters athlete I started to seriously consider if ramping up my training and aiming to be a competitive athlete would be a viable goal. The end result of the reflecting that I did during the summer – and of course the discussions I had with Anna – was that I would start putting a bit more time and effort to my training than I had been.

(Another author’s note – like many over 40 year old masters I consider the new 35-39 masters category as baby masters.)

So I decided to participate in the Linna Masters qualifiers and managed to get a spot in the 40-44 age group. So now I really had to start consider myself as a competitive athlete. Which honestly was a bit of a mental shift for me since I never was one for competitive sports when I was a kid or even younger…

So in all honesty, be prepared for this blog to cover much more CrossFit related posts in the future as I walk down this path of being an athlete – and firefighter, computer nerd, photographer and crazy dog person… :)

Jonne Koski seminar

Sometime in September (or maybe October), Anna sent me a link and asked me if I’d like to go as a birthday present. The event in question was a seminar held by two time CrossFit Games competitor Jonne Koski.

I have to admit – I didn’t feel confident enough in my skills that I would have immediately answered in the affirmative, but after contacting the seminar organiser Antti Akonniemi I felt like I could answer with a yes. So, finally on Halloween I boarded a bus to Helsinki and spent the following day – my actual birthday – listening to Jonne talk about preparing for competition and competing. And we also did three workouts during the day which was supposed to simulate a competition day…

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I haven’t set any specific goals for myself when it comes to competing, but most likely I will at least attempt to qualify for some smaller competitions once I reach that magical age of 40 and qualify for the masters divisions. As someone who started working out at 37, competing with 20-somethings is virtually impossible :)

Photo by Laura Hämäläinen
Photo by Laura Hämäläinen

Even though my plans on competing are vague and in the air, the seminar itself was very good and thought provoking. For someone who tends to think and over-analyse (and read), getting some real feedback on how to periodise training and what to focus on was extremely beneficial. At least for whatever approach I want to take to my training I now have at least some knowledge from a valid competitor on what works in his case.

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We had a nice small group of 11 participants and Jonne and his assistant, Juha Metsämuuronen, were able to give all of us technique tips during the workouts and give us individual attention. Sure, the seminar was not focused on learning technique, but getting tips on how to be more efficient is always good. And as is always the case, a different coach than the one you typically use can give you new perspective on how you move and give new hints on what to do to improve matters.

Tero Kotilainen

I have to admit that I am extremely glad that the workouts Jonne had planned were not technically difficult but really put all of us through the ringer with pure CrossFit.

If you are at all interested in the sport of CrossFit, then I strongly recommend going to a seminar held by a Games (or even Regionals) level athlete and get their perspective on how to train and prepare for competition. And of course, by participating in a seminar you are also helping support their training.

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Anna did make one request regarding my trip: I had to take a selfie with Jonne. He was naturally ok with it, and lucky for me he also reminded me to switch the camera to the selfie camera on my phone once my hand was already up and all we saw on the screen was CrossFit Herttoniemi’s ceiling… Just goes to show you how often I take selfies.

And yes, I was very tired once I made my way to the bus and the six hour trip back home.

Live fire exercise – video

I really did try to get more footage from our live fire exercise than I finally ended up getting. The reason is quite simple: our first attack was into such a hot fire that the GoPro case melted enough to leave the start/stop button inoperable. And since I’m not one to take my phone with me into that amount of heat, I had no way of starting and stopping the recordings. So the only helmet cam footage is from when I went into the smoke during our first attack.

Trust me, although it goes dark as soon as we enter the building, it was hot and smoky for the next three minutes until we put out the fire and started venting. But the video is also a realistic version of what it really looks like when fire fighters enter a burning structure. The high visibility and pretty flames you see on TV and in movies are fiction.

P.S. You can see what my helmet and GoPro looked like after the first attack on Instagram. Although note that I’d already cleaned up the lens to make sure the case was still usable.

Backup, backup, backup…

yellow flatcoated retriever eating grasses

Just keep repeating the title until you set up a good backup regime. If you already have one, try what happens when you imagine one drive just broke.

Still here? Then this post is not for you ;)

In all honesty, please build a good backup system where everything is not on one drive and in one device. Our basic setup so far has been two 1.5TB drives in a RAID-1 setup in a separate NAS box. Sounds technical right? Basically, we have a device hooked up to our home network that has two drives that show as one as everything is automatically mirrored on both drives. In addition to this, I periodically make backups onto an external 1.5TB USB drive. Which, *cough* in theory, should be stored offsite between weekly backups.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been going through last years images. While I was doing this I got (yet another) email from our NAS box telling me that the error count of one drive was increasing. I ignored it because at the same time I’m building a new image server for our house with more storage. Last Sunday, while Anna was editing photographs, our NAS died. Even after several reboots it did nothing.

So, out with the drive that was reporting errors and now everything was up and running. Except for the fact that I only had all images on a single working drive. So, frantically I hooked up the external drive to make sure that I had everything on at least two drives again. This moral of the story? Make sure you have at least two copies of everything that is important – you never know when a drive may fail.

BTW, both of our computers are continuously backed up to an external drive and I’m also in the process of setting up Crashplan on both our computers. Alas, I still don’t know how to sensibly get the image server backed up to Crashplan as 1.5TB is a bit slow to stream…

The picture above is one found during my archival romp and is from early 2012.

2013…

Another year changes, at least according to the default calendar in most modern computers. For me it brings new challenges and the promise of even more time spent “to the dogs.” Although literally in my case and not figuratively.

I hope you had a good and safe start to the new year!