Thursday, September 12, 2013


I recently played my first playoff game in Fiji, against Navoci village. The other team thought it was amusing to target every kickoff at me, and then send their largest player barrelling at me full speed as a way to "kaivulagi" (foreigner). On one occasion, I caught the kick with my arms up but without jumping, leaving myself in a vulnerable position. I took one of the hardest hits I've ever felt right in the low end of my back, as I turned to dump the pass to our scrum half. I hopped up quickly and did my best to hobble as fast as I could so the other team wouldn't have the pleasure of thinking they had hurt me. 

I continued to play, albeit slowed with significant tailbone pain. I hung in there until someone punched me in the ruck. I continued to hit the next ruck while I noticed something was pouring out of my head. I was forced to leave the game by the ref to get stitched up, but as I left I made sure to let the other team know that they hadn't gotten rid of me, and that I was going to return soon.

I got my head fixed up at just about half time. I shouted a taunt to the opposing sideline and went to join my team for the break. Normally, to my disappointment, I get pulled at the second half, and this was one time I was looking forward to it- tailbone woes, a bloody head and a bit dizzy from how tightly the nurse had taped my head. The coach asked how I felt and for some foolish reason I said "great", at which point I was informed that I was headed back in for the second half. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fun with rings

July 1
Skill/strength work:
15 minutes Ring work, with the new set of rings courtesy of Isaiah Olofson, Farmstrong reader. (Thanks Isaiah!). Myself and two others practiced cat's cradles, muscle ups, L-sits, L-pullups and inverted holds.
20 minutes, as many rounds as possible
One jumping muscle up
Three ring dips
Five ring pullups
Ten pushups
200m run (three laps around the house)
I was shooting for ten laps, but just made nine. I was limited by some problems with running barefoot- most notably this one rock that I somehow managed to step on at the end of every run, even when I was prepared for where it was.

Here are some creepy pics of the workout:

First game with the Sabeto A team...

June 29
Due to a fundraising event for the Sabeto Rugby League team, during which some of the regulars were planning to stay a bit too late drinking a bit too much kava, I had was selected for my first game with the Sabeto A team, playing in the Senior Premier Men's Division in the Nadi district. This is the second highest level of rugby played in Fiji, and it was an honor to get to play with them. The team was missing quite a few key forwards, and as a result our scrums were overpowered all day, leading to a gradually building lead for the other team.

I got my chance to play during the last ten minutes, during which time I got to share the field with at least two players who were playing professional rugby overseas a few years ago. I definitely noticed the increased level of play, however I feel that I held my own during my short time on the field, making a few hits and clearing a number of rucks.

After the game, because I only played a short amount of time, I completed my first sprint session in quite some time. I've been noticing that while my agility has been improving, I've lost a step when it comes to top speed in recent months. Normally I would fit in some some sprint sessions in between practices, however with every day rugby practice, it's been hard to do so here in Fiji.

Completed on a somewhat sloping piece of grass, with distances merely a guess.
10 reps
50-75meteres, walk recovery

10 reps
75-100 meters, walk recovery

shuttle run, 10, 25, 50, 75, 100 m (and back)

It felt great to work on sprint mechanics again. I definitely noticed in my first few sprints that I was 1. tightening up all my muscles half way through the run and 2. I was getting tired much too quickly. Part way through the first half I focused on keeping my arms, face and neck relaxed while I ran. The result was an improved top speed and the ability to maintain the top speed throughout the entire sprint without becoming exhausted.

More catchup- including beach wods and burpee pullups

June 28
3.5 mile run
Digging, soil break up and lifting a fallen kumquat tree out of a ditch
Rugby practice (easy)

June 27
Rugby practice (easy)
Quick upper body session
Max handstand pushups
15 regular pushups
5 shelf pullups
7 rounds
Max handstand pushups went as follows: 5, 5, 4, 3, 1, 0

June 26
EMOM featuring Pioneers Edge team member Corey Shwarz
Every Minute On the Minute (EMOM), ascending
1 burpee pullup, 2, 3, etc until the tenth minute
EMOM ascending
3 pushups and 3 situps, 6, 9,12 etc until failure.
Corey made it to 9, I made it to 18 (the sixth minute). From that point forward we attempted to maintain the max amount each minute until the 20th minute.

June 25
Rugby practice-
After 10 minutes of playing touch rugby to warmup, the coach blew a whistle, yelled something in Fijian, and all of a sudden everyone began playing full contact. No warning, no stretching, just hitting. This last for over 60 minutes, which somewhere around 25 people on each team. It was quite fun. I got to focus on my backline support- running tighter with the backs and supporting them in the ruck immediately after contact rather than allowing any space for the defender to poach the ball. In defense I focused primarily on creating turnover ball- in the tackle, in the ruck and in the maul. I was able to create a few turnovers and significantly slow down the other team. I did however get dinged for some dirty play.
June 24

June 23
Touch rugby on the beach, about one hour
Followed by chicken fights, kill the man with the ball and assorted water violence.
June 22
Touch rugby on the team, one hour
Beach team WOD with the Pioneers Edge team
Two teams of three
While one team completes a relay with various heavy objects found on the beach, the other team must complete as many burpees as possible. Final score is the total number of burpees for a team.
Relay one:
Large log and medium log carry, about 50 meters and back
Relay two:
Tire flips, 50 meters plus medium log carry 50 meters and back
Relay three
Medium log carry, 50 meters, 15 thrusters and back, repeat.

Sadly, my team was obliterated. I have a few good excuses as to why, but they don't change the fact that I lost my first beach WOD.


Three Rounds:
20 Pullups on hanging handles (rings)
30 Pushups
40 Situps
50 Squats
Rest three minutes
26 minutes (puppies interfered with time, deducted an estimated three minutes to fix their chain that they were caught up in, may have been more)
Two mile run group run with coconut relay, followed by 9 sets of 15 sec sprints with 30 seconds jogging recovery, full day of trench digging.
More digging
Digging, Rugby practice
Digging, Rugby practice- hard full contact session
Beach touch rugby, two hours
Team of 4- one works, two "hold", one rests
As a team complete:
100 pullups/hold with chin over bar
100 toes to bar/dead hang
100 walk walks/plank
300 cinder block swings/hold block above head
59 minutes
This one resulted in many arguments during the work out about "who will do what", "are we ever going to finish this?" and especially "can we please reduce the reps?". We didn't, and it was worth it when we finished.
3.4 mile run, 1.75 miles easy, 1.25 miles hard, .4 miles easy
Garden bed digging, breaking up clay, two hours
Rugby practice (easy)

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Holy Grail of Fijian Gyms

I've heard rumors about something called a Fiji Rugby Union High Performance Unit (HPU), a seeming "holy grail" of gyms in Fiji.
The other gyms I've been able to find in the area fall into one of the following categories:

Family Sports Clubs- basically a place where a bunch of ex-pats go to play tennis, squash and other things that westerners do. At the one I found near by, the gym was tiny, had limited free weights and was pretty expensive. 
Aerobics studios- not interested for obvious reasons
Torn down/burned down/supposedly opening "soon"

Monday, May 27, 2013

"Do no harm"

The workout:
Two hours yard work with youth group community service day at the Loloma House, a home for single mothers, widows, orphans and women coming from dangerous situations.

While I can't keep up with a Fijian man my own age when it comes to manual labor, it's comforting to know that I can at least outpace a couple of youth. Together we cut grass, cleared brush, removed some old logs, plowed some garden bed space and burned up the brush.

I did, however, nearly violate the #1 rule in community development: "do no harm".

As I was preparing the brush fire, near a mango tree, some banana trees and some other vegetation, one of the youth expressed concern about burning up the brush. I thought he was just trying to get out of the work. His concern was the brush pile was too big (it was quite large, ten feet long, 15 feet wide and four feet deep).
As we began to build up the fire, however, it quickly got a bit bigger than I intended.
I asked one of the boys with me "do you think this is a safe size? Is this how big it is when you burn brush at home?" You see, in Fiji generally there is not the same safety concerns when burning brush because of the wet climate. In this case, it had been dry for a couple weeks, however.
The youth looked at me, a bit worried, and gave me a typical Fijian answer  (making sure not to do or say anything that may embarrass me) "it looks ok if you think it is ok".
He then called to another boy in Fijian, in a worried tone, and said something that sounded a lot like "water, water", but whatever I imagine the Fijian word for that to be.
The fire continue to grow, and out grew what could be handled with the meager amount of water the boy brought. It then dawned on me that the water pressure may not be cooperating with our sudden need of water.
Fortunately, I remembered what the American pioneers did in such a situation. I quickly moved all the burning pieces out a bit into the road, then cleared any small pieces that were likely to burn, coals and whatever I could into the fire itself. The fire grew momentarily (charring one of the mango trees leaves and branches) but after a few minutes died down, as the fuel source had partially burned up and the remaining pile of brush was separated form the blaze by about two feet of clear dirt.
Instead of an "I told you so", the same youth who had initially warned me about burning the brush pile smiled and politely said "wow, you are like a fireman!".