Friday, August 26, 2016

Nike Unlimited Chicago Decathlon - Part II

Continuing my recap of the Nike Chicago Unlimited Decathlon.
The festivities on the grounds of Soldier Field
To recap, here are the ten events we did that night:
  1. 100 meter sprint
  2. Standing long jump
  3. Shot put
  4. Vertical jump
  5. 400 meter run
  6. 60 meter hurdles
  7. Medicine ball throws
  8. Sled pulls
  9. Javelin
  10. 1500 meter run
I talked about the first five events here. Now, let's talk about events 6-10!

6. 60 meter hurdles
For our event, we were using a shorter version of the hurdles than in official competition. The ones we used were maybe lower- to mid-thigh height for me, whereas regulation hurdles would be around waist-high (42 inches). Additionally, in the decathlon this event is 110 meters, but we were only running 60 meters.

The staff advised that we would be disqualified from this event if we knocked any of the hurdles down. Therefore, we needed to balance accuracy with speed.

Here's a sample picture:
I have never run hurdles in my entire life, and we didn't get a chance to practice in advance. We just lined up, heard the whistle blow, then took off.

I'm very right-handed, so I thought I'd always lead my jumps with my right leg. However, I actually found it more intuitive to lead with my left leg. During my heat, I definitely prioritized accuracy over speed. I don't remember my exact timing but I think it was around 14 seconds?

I did see a number of other participants knock hurdles over and/or take vicious tumbles to the ground, especially after the sun went down. Yikes! In retrospect, my team was very fortunate to complete this event when we still had ample daylight.

7. Medicine ball throws
This activity involved participants throwing a medicine ball from a starting kneeling position. Men and women used medicine balls of different weights. We were instructed to spring up from our heels, use our core muscles on the release, then feel free to fall forwards. 
I found it challenging to get leverage from a kneeling position. I was also jarred by the impact of the post-release fall. Hitting the ground knocked the wind out of me a little bit. 

By this point in the night, the fatigue and lack of dinner was definitely wearing on me, and I was already dreading the 1500-meter run later on. In an effort to preserve my energy, I only elected to attempt the medicine ball throw twice. I don't remember my results.

8. Sled pulls
Weight sleds were set up on the grass with a rope attached. Participants had to pull the sled towards their standing position as quickly as possible. Unfortunately I don't know the exact specs of the sled's weight or the pull distance.
Staffers suggested we do a hand-over-hand pull. They mentioned others also had success by doing a two-handed pull, then gathering the rope slack in between pulls.

I completed my first attempt in just over 12 seconds. A few of my team members elected to stop after one attempt, but I tried twice. The experience helped as my second attempt was completed in just over 10 seconds. I was pretty proud of that. Then, my perspective changed when I saw a man complete the challenge in literally 2 seconds, with just two pulls. WOW.

9. Javelin
Staffers demonstrated the proper form, grip, stance, and how to find the javelin's center of gravity. They joked about us using plastic Fisher Price javelins that night compared to regulation metal javelins.
By the time my team got to this event, the sun had set and the fields were quite dark. It was difficult to see the field marks. Additionally, nobody seemed to be clear on how the team heats were being run. 

Due to the confusion, we ran short on time here. I completed one set of javelin attempts but couldn't see my results in the dark. Unfortunately, two members of my team did not get to make any attempts.

10. 1500 meter run
I had been dreading this event all evening. I kept thinking about how torturous it was going to be to run a heat of this distance after already completing 9 other events. My hamstrings were still barking at me, and I was exhausted and ravenous. I considered sitting out.

It was a huge relief to learn that the entire attendee population would be running the 1500 meters together. This took a lot of pressure off, and we later realized we weren't being timed. Everyone was instructed to have their cameras ready for the finish line. Then the crowd lined up for a loop around Soldier Field.

Near the end, we turned inside a Soldier Field entrance and wove through a few hallways. Suddenly we found ourselves finishing out on the playing field!
Cameras were broadcasting the finish line action onto the scoreboards on either side of the stadium. Participants tried to find themselves on the screens:
Here's a snapshot of Erin and me in our post-decathlon triumph - and for me, huge relief! (By the way, check out Erin's decathlon event recap here.)
Everyone gathered for a participant photo:
Then, it was time to relax and celebrate! 

Post-Decathlon Party
The post-decathlon festivities were super cool. The event organizers announced the winning teams and individual performances. All participants were treated to various food and beverage choices from the concession stands. Live Olympics television coverage was broadcast on the scoreboards. We had the entire stadium to ourselves.

Unfortunately I was completely wiped out, so I didn't feel like sticking around too long. 

Epilogue
I am very grateful to Nike Chicago and the Windy City Bloggers for giving me the opportunity to participate in such a marquis event.

This experience has increased my respect for decathletes a million times over. They make it look so much easier than it really is. The next day, I was so sore that it hurt to walk.

I now believe that Ashton Eaton is quite arguably the most incredible all-around athlete on this planet. Enormous congratulations to him on his Olympic decathlon gold medal!

--
Linking up with MarCourtney, and Cynthia for the Friday Five.

8 comments:

  1. Sounds like they should have made this event an octoathlon or some number of events less than 10 since everyone was tired and it got dark before some people could finish some events! Anyway, it was all for fun and sounds like everyone survived albeit with some soreness. What a great way to finish: Inside Soldier Field! So cool. :)

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    1. Completely agreed!!! I now fully understand why the Olympic decathlon takes place over two days, with 5 events each day. It's overwhelming to do all ten in one night! Yes, it was a relief that we were only participating in this event for fun rather than having anything truly at stake. Indeed, I never cease to be amazed at how much clout Nike Chicago has when hosting events. Thanks Pete!!!

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  2. Sounds like fun but really hard! I would be so scared of the hurdles. I was just talking with my son about that...I just don't understand the hurdles and why it's even a thing!

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    1. You hit the nail on the head, Wendy! It was fun but fatigue was a huge factor. I was also scared of the hurdles, too. I was actually thankful they told us we would be DQ'd if we knocked them over, because it gave me a reason to take my time and be careful with them! They are much harder to jump over than they look!

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  3. I am going to back to catch the first part! This sound so intense. I would have been scared to death to jump the hurdles, i am not sure I could have even timed that right! I can't believe there wasn't a chance to practice.
    I think your sled pull was very impressive!
    So cool you had had the whole place to yourself.

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    1. Thanks Karen! Yes, I was wishing we had time to practice the hurdles, too - it would have made a huge difference! I was actually thankful they told us we would be DQ'd if we knocked them over, because it gave me a reason to take my time and be careful. They are much harder to jump over than they look! The sled pull was one of my favorites simply because I saw so much improvement after practicing once. =)

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  4. I am also scared of the hurdles. But I like your approach, accuracy over speed. I cannot imagine running 1500 meters at the end. But glad it was a fun run and at least that took the pressure off. Was walking an option? Great job on doing these events. Ashton Eaton is amazing!!! You are right; I can see why this event takes place in the course of two days.

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    1. Thanks Zenaida! Yes, I spent the entire night dreading the 1500 meters at the end. Walking was absolutely an option! I saw many folks walking along the way, and nobody cared at that point since we were all so tired. =) Ashton Eaton is a force of nature! I seriously can't imagine what his training regimen must be like!!!

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