Finally! Three years without seeing Evergrey live was much too long and luckily they finally published a new album and started touring with Finland once again being the starting point. This time they also made it further east than last time, but still not all the way to our home turf. So we had to cheat on Kerubi and go to the neighboring town’s rock club, Henry’s Pub.
I had no expectations whatsoever on how large a crowd we could expect in Kuopio, but the town surprised us and the place was full enough. And the audience knew their stuff and sang along when needed. There was no photo pit in the place so most of my photography was done from right under Tom’s nose. The benefit of a low stage was that the photographs aren’t nostril shots :)
This was also the first time that I got to see Evergrey play with Henrik Danhage and Jonas Ekdahl who took a few years off from the band. And now it seemed like Evergrey was back home. There was something missing from the previous album which was again present on Hymns for the Broken and even more palpable live.
It was great to hear song throughout the bands career. And of course knowing some of the staples of the set meant that photography was quite a bit easier since I knew to expect certain things. This time I especially loved the lighting for I’m Sorry and how Tom managed to look almost evangelical on stage.
And despite the small and cramped stage and the fact that Jonas and Rikard tried to hide behind the smoke screen through most of the gig, I managed to get several good photographs of both of them.
It felt like the the vibe of the band on stage was joyous and they enjoyed playing for us and let us enjoy almost two hours of music in the Land of Grey. I just hope that it won’t be another three years before we see them live again.
An unexpected thing happened, and Sabaton sold out Kerubi about four months before their gig. I’m fairly certain that no band to date has sold out the venue that long before their gig, but luckily Anna and I managed to get tickets (thanks Hannes :) ). I was also able to get a photo pass for the gig. And it turned out that it was a good thing that I asked about the photo pass beforehand since contrary to most gigs at Kerubi, this time a photo pass was required to use a SLR, let alone get access to the photo pit.
As someone who spends most of his time listening to either death metal or country (don’t even ask, I’m not sure how that happened), Sabaton is a bit out of my normal repertoire. But ever since Hannes left Evergrey and joined them, I’ve been keeping a closer eye and ear on the band.
Don’t get me wrong, as power metal goes Sabaton is a prime example and a very good representative of the genre. And they do make good workout music. But most power metal is simply too happy for my taste and the gloominess of melodic death speaks to me more. And I also have a problem with Sabaton’s lyrics. Mind you, the problem isn’t that I am in any way offended about their use of war in their lyrics but the fact that I start binge reading Wikipedia for the historical articles behind their lyrics destroying any productivity I may have had. And yes, it happened to me several times while editing these photographs.
This was the second time we’ve seen Sabaton. The first time was when Hannes was still playing with Evergrey and both bands were touring the US. Pictures of Sabaton’s gig can be found in our old gallery. In fact, two of the photographs I took during that gig were printed and given to Joakim during this gig since they were something special that I’ve never seen in a metal gig so far.
This time around the years and hundreds of gigs that Sabaton has thrown showed. And the experience showed itself only in a good and positive way. I loved the way Joakim and the rest of the band interacted with the audience and goofed around with each other on stage. I have no idea how routine most of their tomfoolery is, but it was much appreciated.
And I’m certain that Joensuu and Kerubi let Sabaton know that they are welcome in town again!
Oh dear, it really has been about six months since Arch Enemy graced the stage of Kerubi. I didn’t try to get a photo-pass, but luckily there were no limitations to photography from the audience and I managed to get quite a good sample of photographs of the band amidst all the head-banging, jumping and singing along that I did.
Arch Enemy is a band that I’ve long liked for their melodies and guitar work, but have for some reason kept my distance to for a long time. Finally the previous album, Khaos Legions made me a convert and War Eternal has me hooked even more. And of course it helps that the band’s home town is basically our little Swedish import’s home town as well.
I don’t know who was behind the lighting of the show, but it offered wonderfully many opportunities to take good silhouette photographs of Alissa against the lights. So many that I really can’t choose a favorite. But I do know that I’m a sucker for a good silhouette.
I must admit, getting the photo-pass to shoot Sabaton last weekend was the final catalyst to get these images edited and our for the world to see.
The CrossFit Games Open season started almost two weeks ago with the presentation of 15.1 – the first of five workouts to be done during the season. I planned on doing the workouts, but held off on registering until about a week before it started. I finally decided to register just to get a bit more of a mental push to complete each movement to the full standard.
When I woke up on Friday and saw the workout for 15.1 and the surprise 15.1a I grimaced. I really can’t remember when I’ve snatched anything over 40kg last and my PR in snatch at is a measly 55kg which I’ve gotten during a weightlifting class when the focus was on technique and not weight. So the 52.5kg was going to be a challenge. T2B I’m ok with, but have trouble stringing them together especially at our gym where all of the pull-up bars are a bit too low for me.
I knew going in that if I can manage the snatches at all, I should be able to complete two rounds. In the end I surprised myself by finishing three rounds and doing 7 T2B on top of that. Now I’m annoyed that I didn’t manage to squeeze in another three reps to break 100 :)
15.1a was another beast entirely. Shoulder to overhead strength is something that I was dismal at when I started CrossFit so I knew I wouldn’t be getting any earth shattering results. My PR from January was 75kg in C&J so I had some kind of baseline. My first attempt at 70kg failed since I couldn’t quite get lockout. The second attempt succeeded. Then I decided to gamble and threw on 80kg of weight, which I attempted twice and failed both times. But at least I PR’d my clean while doing the attempts :)
So after 15.1 and 15.1a I was at 97642 worldwide.
When 15.2 was announced, I again faced a relative unknown. I’d just started working on chest to bars myself and had so far done them a few times before the WOD. However, I’d done them so that my collar bone had to go above the bar and not touch the bar. So during the warm-up for 15.2 I tested to see that yes, I can do C2B in singles, but I won’t be doing many of them. I did flirt with the idea of going scaled to get more of a metabolic workout, but decided to challenge myself more and stay RX’d.
The first set of OHS went unbroken and then I spent a long time working on getting the 10 C2B. When I went to continue my OHS I decided to squat with a slightly narrower grip to save my shoulders a bit, which worked but caused me to lose my balance after the sixth OHS. Then I had a hard time of getting the bar back up and simply failed to get any more reps in.
So with a score of 26 I managed to PR my C2B and even go up in the worldwide standing placing 88031 at the moment.
I’m not sure what I think of my performance in the Open so far. I’m satisfied with the effort I have put in, but the workouts have really highlighted how far the sport has come in a short time. The results that the top athletes have posted are simply amazing.
I’m also uncertain on how this will affect my future training. I’ve already noticed that our normal scheduling doesn’t challenge me to the level I wish it would but have struggled to find something that I could stick with instead. A few friends are following Ben Bergeron’s Competitors Training which I could possibly start following myself. So far even most of the open workouts there have seemed like insanity in most cases, but now I see why. Being able to do the programming RX’d would give a better chance of getting at least semi-decent Open scores while at the same time increasing my own strength and conditioning.
What I feel that competitors training lacks though is focus on additional skill-work. So that is something that I’d have to add on and find suitable programs for from somewhere else. Any ideas dear occasional readers?
Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of my first CrossFit on-ramp session. Sure, I had some exposure to CrossFit and the workout from earlier and had even tried to do some on my own at the fire station. I have to admit that I was somewhat nervous when the first session started. After all, I had no idea how I would cope and survive.
While the first four weeks of the on-ramp were times of sweaty exertion in the classes and suffering from muscle fatigue and pain in the times between, I very quickly knew that I was hooked. I have never been one to embrace routine or enjoy safety in doing what I know. The reason why I work in IT is that I love the challenge of creating something new and continuously learning. CrossFit is a fitness paradigm that very well fits my interest in continuous learning and skill progression.
So, what have I gained during my first year?
First of all, I’ve learned even at almost 40 my body is very ready to learn new skills and tricks and it is still very much capable of getting in better shape. I can honestly say that I am now in the best shape that I have ever been.
I have lost 14 kg of weight since I started, but gained muscle mass even despite the weight loss. By every count my body is now in the healthy range and I have surpassed what I ever dreamt could be my weight. The last time I probably was at this weight was before I stopped growing.
I have made PRs (personal records) in every thing I’ve tried, and broken my PRs several times during the year.
Most importantly, I have truly learned how to enjoy physical activity and moving. So much so, that I crave it if I take too long a break from physical exertion.
As any true geek, in addition to going to classes I have immersed myself in the world of CrossFit by reading about in online. Partly to learn new skills (hello YouTube) and partly to study nutrition, my body, understand programming etc. What struck me quickly from reading articles from around the world was the emphasis on community. I never would have thought it possible, but there is a strong community at our box as well. Even among us strong and silent Finns. And of course, doing a grinding WOD is always easier when there are others experiencing exactly the same around you.
My very first exposure (as I have previously written) was with Fran (21-15-9 of 43kg thrusters and pull-ups). Fran is infamous in the community for very good reason. Whatever your skill-level is, it is a burner. The first time I tried it a year and a half ago, I could barely complete three thrusters and three pull-ups. I finally had the courage to try it out right after new years. My time? 9:10, thanks for asking. At least it was under my goal and I managed to do it RX’d.
I already know from my reading that typically the first year is easy since almost every time at the box leads to a new PR and the second (or following) year is harder because progress is slower. I have set many a goal for myself, most of them cautiously realistic and doable. I also know myself well enough to know that as long as I feel progress even if I do not reach my goals I will not be devastated. Stagnation is what I fear and at the time age should not be a limiting factor to my progress.
As for my goals? Well, by the beginning of June I should be able to deadlift two times my bodyweight (BW), squat 1.5xBW, and move my body weight from ground to overhead. Skillwise I should have double unders quite well mastered by then as well as managing at least one muscle-up. Once we get to summer lets see what else will be added to my goals for the year. Most of all, I want to keep enjoying moving as much as I do now and continue staying injury free.
So, those are some of the thoughts I have had after my first year of CrossFit. And how did I celebrate my anniversary? By going to the box and doing a WOD, of course. :)
Disclaimer: At the time that I started I had no idea that the gym I go to was not an official affiliate. Finland had a conflicting licensing issue and only in the end of 2014 was it resolved to CrossFit Inc’s benefit and the gym I go to is no longer in any way licensed to use the term CrossFit in their marketing. But as an athlete I will continue to claim CrossFit as my sport wherever I do the workouts: at home, the fire station or any other gym. And honestly, even if our city had an official affiliate (which we don’t at the moment) – our current coach is excellent in coaching weightlifting as he has competed in powerlifting at a high level.