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A Marauder's Story

11 Posts tagged with the mudder tag

The culmination of this blog has been reached: I completed Tough Mudder PA.

 

As I might have mentioned before, the scope of my training has been eclipsed by the Goruck Challenge. As such, Tough Mudder was simply a lighthearted romp through the muck and mire. I also had the distinct pleasure of running the event with Colin, who was the only member of the original team to join me.

 

It took some logistic string-pulling to get my Forerunner watch to the event, but I am fortunate to have parents who can perform such miracles. My more extended family was present as well, and they provided great support.

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I chose to use Elevation instead of Pace for the second graphed variable since the pace was so erratic as a result of inconsistent runners on the trails or chokepoints at the obstacles. Here are the data with the red line representing Heart Rate and the green line Elevation:

 

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As you might imagine, the event was not a straight run-through of 10.5 miles. The longest uninterrupted stretch of running would only amount to about 3 miles and most of the participants were walking up the hills.

 

If you're looking for training advice for this kind of event, here are a few main factors to consider:

 

Leg Strength: You want to be strong, but not bulky. Try bodyweight squats, single-leg squats (assisted, standard or weighted) and lunges. High repetition sets, fast.

 

Glutes: (to keep you stable) Glute Lift. If you're strong enough, do these with one leg held straight out, thighs parallel, toes of the straight leg pointing away from you. High repetition sets, slow.

 

Core: (more stability) Leg Lifts and Iron Bridge (Plank hold). High repetition sets for leg lifts. Work up to holding the plank for as long as possible (1 minute would be a good goal) and when you can't hold it any more, do crossovers with your legs - bring a knee up to your chest and back to pushup position about ten times, then do the other leg.

 

Upper Body: I didn't find this aspect to be too terribly important for this event. Grip strength will be important for the Funky Monkey, and you'll need a decent amount of strength to get over the nets and Berlin Walls, but you're going to be surrounded by people who are more than happy to toss your muddy behind over the obstacles. If you're strong enough to do 25 consecutive pushups I'd say you're prepared.

 

Cardiovascular Endurance: I'd recommend less street running in favor of trail running if possible. Using a jump rope is an excellent way to improve cardiovascular endurance in a short time. It has been estimated that the same amount of calories can be burned in 15 minutes of jumping rope versus 30 minutes of running on flat ground.

 

The event, as a whole, is tough - don't kid yourself. You will need to prepare mentally as well as physically. Running with a team or just a buddy is a great way to keep a reasonable pace and to maintain a good attitude.

 

Walk up the hills, jog down them. Unless you're competing for a qualifying time, your time doesn't matter. Getting hurt does matter. Not finishing does matter. If you signed up for this, you owe it to yourself to finish.

 

If you would like more specific advice about how to prepare, what to wear, or any other such questions, feel free to contact me.

 

The Tough Mudder site does a decent job of approximating the course outline, but the order and placement of the obstacles is not entirely accurate. Here is my Forerunner's impression of our path for the entire run:

4-10-11 TM map.jpg

 

 

The Maurauder's Wave

We were late for our wave, but it doesn't seem to matter. We donned our costumes, had our bib numbers scrawled on our skin with indelible marker, and eventually made our way to the starting line.

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After purposefully butchering the Pledge we were off. I couldn't help but splash around in the mud at the bottom of the first hill near the spectators; I was euphoric.

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And then into the smoke-bombed incline.

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I let Colin set the pace and complacently followed him for most of the run. He was powering up the hills which wore him out early on, but he hit his stride once we reached some of the downhill portions.

 

We ran up and down the hills and had to deal briefly with a series of dirt mounds with nets on them. After navigating these and the slippery snow, we eventually came down a main stretch called Kodiak. There was an obstacle called Greased Lightning towards the bottom of the hill. We dove in headfirst and had the pleasure of the initial soaking to deal with for the remainder of the run.

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We then made our way up Sasquatch, one of Bear Creek's steepest slopes. I had no trouble with it, and encouraged the other participants as I made my way up. By this point I had heard exclamations of "arrrr" from various people as a sort of speciously clever recognition of the fact that we looked like pirates. We conquered other various obstacles at the top of the hill, namely the Boa Constrictor which I particularly enjoyed. There were two large black tubes which slanted down into a pool of cold, muddy water. By the time you've crawled to the end of the first tube you're chin-deep in the water. It was glorious.

 

The trail led to the Berlin Walls, which were awesome. I resolved to not use the footholds on the wall, and to attempt the walls on my own. I was surprised to find that I had difficulty with the first wall, but I did eventually get over. The following walls were much easier, and I just enjoyed the obstacle as a whole. Helping people get over is very satisfying, as well.

 

We turned back around and made our way across the top of the hill and headed South to a long, winding trail. The descent was pleasant, and we maintained a great pace while snaking through the trees and other participants.

 

We made our way back into the parking lot of the resort, and met with a large tub of red liquid and some confused-looking girls handing out Habanero Peppers. It wasn't made clear whether we were supposed to eat them or just chew them up and spit them out. Considering how tough I am, guess what I did. I leapt into the red liquid which felt no different than water (I'm honestly not sure what the point of that was), and charged on along a slippery hill on the outer rim of the pond.

 

We worked our way back up the hill underneath The Devil's Beard which is just a large cargo net. We went back down the hill again and were met with some weird iron fences with thick black bars over which we were meant to climb. I met up again with my family as we waited in the considerably long line for the Walk The Plank obstacle. We finally were able to climb up to the top of the platforms and leap into the freezing water below:

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All the cold showers I had taken could not have prepared me for that water. I had no trouble swimming, but it was horribly cold. What made matters worse was the panicky people surrounding me; I felt like I might be pulled under at any moment. Flashback to my lifeguard training. You'll notice the distinct dip in my heart rate around 1:20 into the run. I think this corresponds to the dive.

 

Colin and I managed to crawl out of the pond and took a short rest at a water station before charging ahead. We were met with two more water-based obstacles: one which looked like it was meant to be Twinkle Toes, but ended up being channels with a series of three wooden walls that went below the surface of the water to varying depths. Colin and I each chose a channel and I was not pleasantly surprised to find that the middle wall was about three feet from the bottom of the pond.

 

Immediately after this weird water wall challenge we were lining up for the Ball Shrinker. Usually a Mudder will try to shimmy along the rope with their feet while holding the suspended rope above. A boisterous military-man was caustically advising us to simply pull ourselves through the water with the lower rope and "save [our] shoulders for the other obstacles". We complied, but I felt slightly cheated. I went first and was almost coming to enjoy the stinging chill of the water on my genitals when a frantic semi-Asian man began to overtake Colin, shouting something about needing to go faster. Delightful.

 

We survived the anxious Asian's onslaught and trudged along into a system of trails on the opposite end of the resort. With the notable exception of my teeth chattering at a rate ferocious enough to irregularize my breathing rhythm, I found the run to be quite enjoyable. We serpentined through the trees and up some minor hills. There were some narrower portions and we would occasionally be stuck behind a slower runner, but for the most part we maintained a good pace and overtook a good number of other participants. We made our way along the 3.5-4 mile path around the backside of the mountain, eventually coming back up onto the ski slopes.

 

The Mud Mile affronted us. It was essentially a stretch of muddy-water-filled trenches. This, normally, would be a manageable thing. The catch was that since the water is so murky one can't get a sense of their footing. This becomes especially problematic when large rocks adorn the bottom of the pools of indeterminate depth. We were forced to make our way carefully through the pools and jog between them. Towards the end of the Mud Mile we were made to go through a long trench of knee-deep water with horizontal logs lying above the water's surface. We were supposed to go under them. I went into a frenzy, splashed Colin and then took off on my own. I sloshed through the water, sending it everywhere and roaring like a maniac. I held my foam hat on my head as I ducked into the water and under the poles, and then charged forth to the next one. It was bestial.

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After the Mud Mile we glided downhill to the Monkey Bars to find that they were not being used. The participants were walking around the outside of the obstacle, and there were a number of officials looking concerned. It seems someone had broken his leg the day before, and they were shutting down the obstacle. We were indignant, but didn't want to wait around to see if it would reopen, so we continued on.

 

The next downhill portion contained the Kiss Of Mud obstacle which is a section of rocks and water where a participant is meant to crawl under barbed wire. I was forced to go slow because of the person I was following, and dragging my chest on the rocky ground was decidedly uncomfortable, but I got through with no significant difficulty.

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We reached the bottom of the hill and were made to run through a gauntlet of burning hay bales which caused great white billows of smoke to obscure the path ahead.

 

We made our way back up another hill and eventually passed the parallel path that led to the Funky Monkey. Since we were walking anyway I decided to go see if the obstacle was opened again, and it was. We talked ourselves into waiting to do it, and the wait wasn't too bad. As we waited I removed my gloves, thinking my bare skin would afford me better grip. This might have been a mistake, but there's no way for me to know. Colin had just as much difficulty as I, although he wore his gloves. We both made it to about halfway across before slipping off into the black tarp below.

 

With the Funky Monkey at least attempted we rejoined the proper course path. We went up another small hill, and then back down to the bottom to find the Hold Your Wood portion of the run. Another participant handed me the one he had been carrying, a large but not terribly heavy piece. I shouldered it and started walking up the hill. I paused, looked back at the pile with a devious smile, and grabbed another log with my left hand. Colin said something like "Oh, ok. Guess we're doing two, then." He grabbed a second log and we made our way slowly up the hill. By the time I reached the top I was feeling the weight mostly in my shoulders and triceps. The downhill portion was much easier but it took me a decent amount of reorganization to keep from dropping the logs.

 

The next three hills contained the cargo nets, the Mystery Obstacle and then finally Electroshock Therapy and the finish.

 

The cargo nets were manageable. What made them difficult was the instability from other participants clumsily flailing around on the ropes. Colin and I stayed behind a while after making it to the other side to hold it steady for some others.

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The Mystery Obstacle is a large wooden structure with slopes on either end of a high platform. The front side is covered in a thick plastic which makes it quite difficult to complete this obstacle without help. Everyone was helping everyone else, though, so it was simply a fun way to bond with the people around you. You then slide down the other side, and head back downhill. At the bottom of this hill they have some high hay bales set up to be vaulted. After we made it through those it was back uphill again for the final obstacle, Electroshock.

 

I was really excited about this particular obstacle because of the pictures and videos I had seen. The collective unconscious of the participants entertained some unnamable dread about it, which made me want it even more. Colin and I lined up at the top of a small hill in front of the obstacle and waited for the others to go through. We looked at each other, nodded, and ran screaming through the wires. I was shocked but Colin wasn't. The surge went from my elbow to my tailbone and felt like a deep static shock. I can see how it might cause a participant to drop to the ground, though.

 

We crossed the finish line roaring like wild animals and claimed our shirts and headbands. I choked down a beer and corralled with my family and friends.

 

The aftermath was mild. I had some tightness in my right Sartorius muscle which caused discomfort in my groin, but nothing serious. My shoulders were sore, likely from the Hold Your Wood obstacle, but it went away with some stretching and rest.

 

The event, overall, was extremely enjoyable. It is something meant to be shared, and to complete something like this with a team or even a partner is supremely rewarding.

 

Next up: Goruck Challenge, then another Mudder in early May.

 

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2,726 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: running, snow, trail, endurance, trail-running, heart, mud, gps, garmin, heart_rate, forerunner, tough, tough-mudder, mudder

Neustift-Innermanzing

Posted by Superfiend Apr 4, 2011

My knees are still a bit sore from my 13-mile run, but I was plenty strong enough to tackle a hilly trail run this morning.

 

I went back out to Blue Hills, which was a major traininng location for me as I was preparing for the Shawnee Peak Challenge and Ruckus Boston. I ran in shorts and a sleeveless moisture-wicking athletic shirt, so I was chilly at first. I chose the outfit deliberately because I wanted to make the run more challenging. I knew that I would feel a lot stronger on the trails as compared to last semester, but the difference was striking.

 

Here's the chart of the run data:

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The spikes in heart rate are caused by me running up very steep hills to the summits along the trails. This Google Earth image of the run does a great job of illustrating my path and my ascent:

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I ran along the bottom red line to the end of the trail, at the Museum. I turned around and made a loop above the parking lot which included a nice little hill, hence the first spike. I then continued along on previously unexplored trails until I came to an imposing gradient to my right, and followed it with an adventurous spirit. I passed about two turnoffs onto huge, rocky hills before I finally broke down and took to running up one of them. The one I chose just happened to be the steepest, highest trail in the park.

 

You can see my total ascent value in the chart. I think the path from the bottom of the hill to the top ascends about 250 feet along a distance of about a half mile. It was brutal and I didn't run the whole way. I think my stopping was mostly related to the terrain and not so much my stamina, but I distinctly remember at least one instance where I was pushing myself too hard and had to slow down. In any case, I was considerably stronger today than I have ever been on trail hills.

 

I'm honestly not concerned about the event; I feel like Goruck has totally eclipsed Tough Mudder for me in terms of motivation and my general anxiety about preparedness.

 

I've begun a carb-loading pattern in my diet in an effort to store energy for Sunday. My goal for carb intake right now is 50%, which I'll raise to around 70% by Thursday, followed of course by a large carb-filled dinner the night before the event. I read and hear contradicting things about when the pre-event high intensity exercise should be performed (either the day before, or two days before). I'll probably do some intense hill sprints two days before the event and take Saturday off as rest.

344 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, running, trail, endurance, trail-running, heart, mud, gps, hills, garmin, heart_rate, forerunner, tough, carb, loading, carbohydrate, tough-mudder, mudder, blue, goruck, carb_loading, carb-loading, blue_hills

This morning's run followed the same path as my last weighted run.

 

The data from the Forerunner are a bit botched since for some reason it took forever to find a GPS signal. I still have the heart rate information, though, which is somewhat more stable than last time. This is with the 20lb weight vest:

 

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Unfortunately my pace wasn't tracked until about 11 minutes into my run since it took so long to find a satellite signal, which threw off the averages.

 

The spikes in my pace around 14, 15 and 16 minutes are when I was forced to wait at intersections or behind someone walking slowly on the sidewalk.

 

My heart rate was more consistent this time, as was my pace overall. I ran the whole path (3.5 miles) with no walking rests. I felt loose and strong throughout the whole run. It was a good mental day so I was in the zone. I felt tight and sore when I stopped for my cool-down walk to my apartment but it went away with some stretching.

 

The runs are going really well so I'll likely change the routine soon, maybe within the next two weeks. Instead of adding weight, which I thought I would do originally, I think I'll just increase the distance and focus on keeping a consistent pace.

 

In other news: I've officially registered for Goruck Boston! It's really exciting, and gives me great motivation for my workouts. I'll eventually register for Tough Mudder Vermont, likely this coming week. I'll still be running Tough Mudder PA on April 10th with my friend.

 

Overall my training is going really well and I feel great.

354 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, running, weight, endurance, heart, rate, mud, gps, garmin, heart_rate, forerunner, pace, tough, tough-mudder, mudder, goruck, weighted, weight_vest

This new workout feels awesome. Here's my updated Strength routine:

The entire routine is completed while wearing my weight vest currently set to 20lbs and two 20lb kettlebells when appropriate.

 

Warmup (2x):

10 standard pushups.

20 standard lunges.

5 full extension wide handhold pullups.

Shadow boxing (dynamic stretching)

 

Workout:

Each exercise, as previously stated, is performed nonstop for 60 seconds. 15 second rest between exercises. I've been using a little stopwatch for which I've developed a love/hate sentiment.

 

1. Kettlebell Pushups + Raise

    Dip down between kettlebell handles, push back up. Bring one bell up above your shoulders to form a vertical line with both arms, hold for a second, then bring back down. Next repetition is for the other bell/arm.

 

2. Kettlebell Swings:

    Standard kettlebell exercise. Feet a bit more than shoulder-width apart, swing kettlebell between legs up to chin level, then back down.

 

3. Forward Lunges.

 

4. Kettlebell Rows:

    Shoulder-width stance. Bend forward at the waist holding both kettlebells close to the floor. Bring both bells up to the chest, then lower without touching the ground.

 

5. Side Lunges:

    Can be done while holding kettlebells, but I don't feel like it's as beneficial for me at this point.

 

6. Kettlebell Pushups + Rows:

    Same as previous kettlebell pushup, except at the top of the push you bring one bell up to your chest, hold, then lower the bell back to the floor.

 

7. Forward Lunges with upper body twist:

    Just as it sounds. I twist to both sides during each lunge.

 

8. Decline Pushups:

    Prop your feet up on a chair, couch seat or other relatively low surface. I recommend doing sets of low reps (4 or 5) and taking a few breaths before the next set. I usually tap out of this portion around 40 seconds.

 

9. Mountain Climbers:

    Pushup position, bring one leg up to chest then back to starting position and alternate quickly. I can't yet do 60 seconds of this nonstop after the other exercises. I'm improving, though.

 

10. Pullups:

       The Tough Mudder site recommends chinups but I change the type of pullup each time I do this routine. I usually break it into mini-sets of 5-6 pulls and then allow a rest while still hanging. This is awful with the vest after having done the other arm-intensive exercises.

 

11. Plank:

      The familiar old plank hold. Grin and bear it. This is cake for me without a vest, and without having done all the other exercises prior, but doing it with those things in place is quite a feat. I  finally held out for a full minute today for the first time.

 

12. Oblique Plank:

       Then they hit you with this. You're supposed to hold each side for a full minute. I'm up to 45 seconds on each allowing a 15-second rest between the sides.

 

13. Squats:

       Just standard bodyweight (or weighted) squats. I'm planning on substituting this for one leg squats once I'm strong enough.

242 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, weight, endurance, strength, tough, tough-mudder, mudder, bell, kettlebell, weighted, weight_vest, kettle, kettle_bell

Audunar þáttr vestfirzka

Posted by Superfiend Jan 22, 2011

I've become more ambitious in my training, and have set my sights on an event that surpasses Tough Mudder in basically every way: the Goruck Challenge.

 

Here's a video outlining the madness of the task.

 

I am still registered for Tough Mudder PA on April 10th. As of right now I have only one other team member; all the others I had hoped to recruit were too apprehensive or otherwise constrained to register in time (the event recently sold out). I expect Tough Mudder to now be more of a fun romp than a serious competition, but I know I'm going to love it anyway - and perhaps even more so.

 

I have a few new toys, thanks to the holiday.

 

My favorite: my Vibram TrekSport shoes. I've been wearing these shoes almost non-stop since I got them. All the rave reviews I had heard (especially at events like Shawnee and Ruckus) are well-founded, and I find myself now an enthusiastic proponent of the brand. My feet are considerably stronger and I've even developed a considerable level of prehensility with my toes, although moving them independently is physiologically impossible. The Vibram shoes improve posture and practically force proper running form. I've used them for travel (almost exclusively during a recent family vacation) and I'm working my way up to running in them.

 

Next on the list is the weight vest. After some deliberation I settled on one from Dick's Sporting Goods called the Fitness Gear Weighted Vest. I've been wearing it for daily use here and there, but its most profound impact has been on my workouts. I wore it during normal workouts at home (of which I did very little, I'm sorry to say, while I was on break) and it made a huge difference. Though I'm scaffolding the added weight, and only currently using 20lbs (of the possible 40), the impact on my endurance and strength in a routine, which was previously quite manageable, was considerable. I would do a set with the vest and the second set without. More recently, since coming back to Boston, I've been using it with a newer workout routine: it's essentially listed on the Tough Mudder site. I admit I didn't finish the full 60 seconds of some of the exercises at the end, but I think I did really well, especially considering I was wearing the weight vest at 20lbs the whole time and using two 20lb kettlebells for their respective sections. I'm going to use this workout instead of my old one because I want to change it up for my body and work some previously untrained aspects of my strength. Since it makes you switch between exercises so quickly with so little rest it also includes a considerably cardiovascular strain.

 

Finally, I'm impatiently awaiting the arrival of my Garmin Forerunner 305 (GPS Heart Rate Monitor doodad). I'm pretty excited about having this gadget. I'm a techno-geek to begin with, and adding the tech to my fitness aspirations is just wonderful. Check out the specs and the user-submitted pictures on Amazon to see some of the capabilities. I expect to wear this during every workout to optimize my gains and keep track of my progress in a more objective way. I’ll likely upload some if not all of this information to my blog for some added cohesion (especially from big events like Tough Mudder and Goruck).

 

I'm proud to say that I'm holding strong to the vegan diet, and it's working out quite well. It's considerably easier now and I feel great about it. I'm going to be making an active effort to learn more recipes this semester and do more cooking for myself. I also got a Jack LaLanne Power Juicer Express, which I use often. I love the convenience of it. I admit to not noticing a significant difference in my performance since switching to a plant-based diet, but I was basically in top shape beforehand.

 

As far as the supplements are concerned, it's all vegan or nothing. I’ve been supporting a product called Vega, and I use the Whole Food Health Optimizer as my post-workout recovery drink. It’s pretty ridiculous as a dietary supplement; it’s got 100% or more of basically everything you need daily. The taste is acceptable, even good sometimes (reminds me of Carnation Instant Breakfast), and it mixes rather well. I know that without this supplement I would be extremely sore after my intense workouts, so it seems to be doing its job. It’s expensive even when it’s on sale, but I feel that it’s worth the extra money, especially since I know I wouldn’t be properly nourished without it considering my relatively poor culinary ability.

 

Besides the gadgets my sights are set on bigger and more challenging events. The Goruck Challenge, as outlined here on the Tough Mudder site, is intimidating to say the least. I’m considering running the Tough Mudder PA with my weight vest on, effectively using the event itself as training for the Goruck Challenge. One of my friends, whom I met at Shawnee and with whom I competed at Ruckus, said he would be interested in doing the Goruck Challenge. We are going to get together and punish ourselves regularly (wearing weighted equipment and running in snow, randomly doing pushups in the mud/slush/highway, etc.) in preparation for Goruck. The distance concerns me (~17 miles I believe), but their pace seems far slower than my natural pace which I imagine might help.

 

I went running in the snow a few days ago and it was awful. Granted it was my first run since coming back to Boston, the snow was deep, it was a dry, bitter cold and I felt like I might die, but it’s a path I’ve run many times before so I felt like it would be manageable. I walked the last half of the run shamefully after having willed myself that far. I made it to the gym complex and proceeded to punish myself for my weakness in the elements. I did interval running (which is fantastic and will comprise a greater portion of my aerobic workouts henceforth), weighted jump rope sets (each handle weighted at 1lb – it’s a lot harder than it sounds), 30 minutes on the elliptical with medium-high resistance while randomly sprinting, more jump rope and finish with some isometric stretching. It was a great session but I’m worried about my poor performance outside. The Goruck and Tough Mudder runs will be significantly different just for the fact that it will be a different (more forgiving) season, but I expect more out of myself. Soon I will start doing my runs with the weighted vest.

998 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: running, weight, diet, nutrition, snow, endurance, gps, vibram, garmin, forerunner, elliptical, interval, tough-mudder, mudder, vest, lalanne, goruck, weighted, weight_vest, juicer, treksport, vega

Ruckus Boston

Posted by Superfiend Nov 16, 2010

November 13th was met with great anticipation. I strain to recall another morning where I’ve woken up as eagerly. I was making oatmeal and packing my things at 9:05am as my mind raced, attempting to find the proper disposition and to dredge the cobwebs of sleep. I ate about half of a bowl of oatmeal and gathered my things. I was dressed and walking out the door at 9:30. The drive was pleasant and within 45-minutes’ time I was at the event. As I pulled in I was able to see a few runners trudging through the course, but I was not able to make out any helpful details from my vantage point. I parked, sifted through a few things, made myself an Endurance mix and choked it down. I felt rushed and uncomfortable, but overly determined. I had a positive attitude and I meant to bring it to bear on the course.

I left the car with the majority of my things not knowing if there would be a place to store them during the race. It turns out that there was a Gear Check. Peter, a friend I met at the Shawnee Peak Challenge, picked me out of the Registration line and had already checked himself in. I numbly bumbled my way through the check-in procedure and talked to Peter for a while. We walked around, stretched, I used the bathroom and we were soon in line at the Start. We made our way up as close to the gate as we could since this greatly benefited me in the SPC. The wait for the beginning of the race was tense. Some guy mentioned to his friend that he should take his gloves off since he would slip on the monkey bars or the commando pole. Peter and I were having none of that claptrap and defiantly left ours on. We shook, flailed and extended our limbs as the final seconds counted down. We went off with the siren.

 

Peter and I were running together for a stretch before the first obstacle. We were met with barbed wire precariously suspended above our backs as we shimmied underneath. This proved to be something of a choke point for the runners out in front. Peter and I made our way through rather quickly, and ran around a corner and through a small area with trees. I came up closely behind Peter, pacing myself with him as we crossed a small bridge. As we made our way out of the trees and around the next corner we were affronted by the next obstacle: the Trenches.

 

The Trenches are just as they sound. Large holes in the ground with the unearthed dirt from the holes piled up behind them. The holes are conveniently filled with freezing muddy water. Being as though Peter and I were competing in the 11am wave the Trenches were worn in, meaning that the mud was matted down, slick in parts, and didn’t let go easily. As I approached the Trenches I was confounded at first. “Am I meant to jump over the hole?” is a conscious thought I recall. I heard one of the attendants shout “Go in and out!” And so I did. The shock of the cold water on my calves was a delight, and climbing up the dirt hill after pulling myself out of the water was just bliss. There were about five of them; I certainly made no effort to count. This obstacle put me far ahead of most of the other runners who were close before. Having conquered the last Trench’s dirt hill I began running again and noticed that my shoes were full of water, rocks and mud which effectively made them twice as heavy and incalculably less comfortable. I turned the corner and the next obstacle came into view.

 

This was simply a low-hanging camouflaged net under which one has to crawl or move in a quadrupedal fashion. This went by easily enough, but the following obstacle was directly behind it. There was a giant, horrible pit of muddy water which had two logs supported horizontally about a foot over the surface. Attendants screamed: “Go over or under the logs!”, “Do NOT dive!” So my hopes of diving were shot. I trudged through and went under the logs, climbing out at the end and reveling in how fun it was to run with soaked feet. The next section was simply a mind-numbing run back and forth until you reached a few buildings. Thus ends “Zone Foxtrot”.

 

The next few obstacles were placed in between the buildings. The first set was a sequence of barrier walls of alternating height. I flew through these, passing one guy. I turned a corner around the first building to find my beloved Normandy Walls. The attendants stipulate that you have to do this obstacle with your hands behind your head for some reason, so I complied and jumped into it. They are placed so close together, however, that running through and jumping over each wall with any discernible rhythm is essentially impossible so I was forced to slow my pace to walking speed and simply step over them. This change in pace was devastating, and I think had a huge effect on my stamina. I finished the Normandy Walls and turned the next corner. More barrier walls. The same set. Joy. I vaulted these just as the set before and had a decent intuition as to the next obstacle. Well whaddya know? Another set of Normandy Walls. I walked through these, stepping over them, and finished with “Zone Zulu”.

 

We ran from the end of the previous Zone up to the main Fairgrounds along a rather lengthy track and passed through “Zone Delta” to reach “Zone Uniform”. The first obstacle in this Zone was the Uneven Fences.

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I found these more challenging than they were at SPC since we had to run uphill to the walls at SPC and at Ruckus they were simply on flat ground. I was pretty beat by the time I reached the Fences, but made my way over each one easily. As I finished the last fence I suddenly realized that I couldn’t run anymore. I was spent and somehow had no motivation. I slowed to a shameful walk, and went about half of the way between the Uneven Fences and the next obstacle, the Ranger Bars. The idea here is to pull yourself up to a single suspended pole and to make your way across to the other side by any means necessary. Some people shimmied across hanging upside down from their hands and knees/ankles. Some people went with just their arms. I chose the latter and it seemed to work well. There was no designated end point for this obstacle other than the end of the bar, but we did have two men who seemed like Marines yelling outrageous things at us, which was cool.

 

The end of “Zone Uniform” was marked by more camo nets, and I made my way easily through those, but I was reeling at this point from a side cramp. I began walking again, but only briefly, in an effort to breathe deeply and remove the cramp. It seemed to work a little bit, and I was passed by a guy who asked if I was all right. This rallied my spirit and I began to run again. It hurt.

 

“Zone Delta” is a long, winding path located in the middle of the fairgrounds. There was a lot of running back and forth. One eight-foot wall affronted us as the first real obstacle. One side had a rope, the other didn’t. Guess which side I chose. I was up an over in an instant, and hit the ground running – literally.

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We ran in another loop before coming around to a sequence of concrete barriers which seemed like they were thrown in as an afterthought. I hurdled them, passing someone who was vaulting them more slowly. I turned the corner, exhausted, and began to walk briefly again before mentally reprimanding myself. I ran again, making my way around another corner to the next obstacle. A group of tires were lying on the ground and I approached them, about to place my foot inside and run through. An attendant corrected me, saying that we’re meant to “bear crawl” on the outer rim of the tires. I complied, and was quickly on the other side.

 

We then transitioned into “Zone Sierra” which began with a system of large concrete tubes which were arranged to follow a path from one end to the other. Occasionally two pipes would converge on one which led to me cutting a guy off while inside the pipes. I felt fine going through them but did notice that it was working my calves and tearing the skin on my knees. Once outside the tubes we were quickly met with the next obstacle: the Sea of Tires. People didn’t know what to do with these; step in the tires or on them, but it didn’t seem to matter. I almost toppled a column of tires as I lost my balance, but I escaped this obstacle uninjured. I made my way around some more snaking trails and turned a corner to finally meet the Monkey Bars. I clambered up the wooden ladder to the bars and was somewhat disappointed to see that there was no mud pit below the bars as there was at the SPC. There were actually a bunch of hay bales which is about as unextreme as it gets. I took my time to get a grip on the first bar, found it to be secured and a bit easier than it was at SPC, and I assumed a great rhythm, making my way across in no time. We ran straight from the Monkey Bars behind the announcer’s location and came around the other side to reach the final Zone.

There was another set of camo nets, but they were decrepit by the time I reached them.

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I went in the side that was in the best shape, but I still got caught and nearly strangled halfway through. I finished the camo net and was affronted by a large, steep dirt hill. There were apparently ropes to help competitors to climb the hill but I either didn’t notice them or didn’t care and I was up and over in a heartbeat (or, more accurately, likely a dozen or so heartbeats judging by how winded I was at the time). I ran from the bottom of the hill and was guided back towards it for a second up-and-over, this time there were definitely no ropes. Again, no problem. I turned another corner and there was a final set of barbed wire to be avoided. I moved through deftly, but felt that the open cuts and scrapes on my knees and shins were definitely being coated with mud and sand. I looked up once I finished the final barbed wire to see the last leg of the hill which was somewhat steeper than the other sections.

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I powered up the first side and carefully made my way down, discovering that I was at the finish already. I might have moved a bit faster in the preceding obstacles had I known. I was overcome with euphoria and noticed, to my delight, that there was a large mud puddle right before the Finish line. I jumped high with my arms out to my sides while making a crazy face and came down hard into the mud, splashing it everywhere. I looked up to see a photographer for Brightroom who exclaimed “Yeah! Awesome!” I really hope that she got a good shot of that moment. The Brightroom pictures from the SPC were pretty poor.

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I numbly walked out of the event area, accepted my medal from some overly-enthusiastic girls, picked up a bottle of water and two half-bananas and nearly vomited at the thought of eating some potato chips that they were offering. I sat down and watched a few of the other competitors as they ran, waiting for Peter. He showed up eventually, looking like hell and covered in mud. I really wish I had pictures of how we both looked right after running the event. The bananas were not ripe, and I spit out the bite that I had taken. I could barely drink my water and was generally disgruntled and disagreeable about everything else. I eventually regained some semblance of a personality and suggested that Peter and I walk around a bit to see what the vendors were selling and to keep our bodies moving. We tried some lackluster “Code Blue” recovery drink which we threw out and headed over to check our results.

 

My time for Ruckus is better than the one for Shawnee, but only by about 40 seconds. We looked at some of the top finisher’s times and they were just outstanding. The first finisher for my wave had a time of 25:36, which I believe is within reach for me. Had I done less walking I would have finished much, much sooner. The best time for the regular event was 23:15, and the best time in the Champion’s Heat ended up being 21:58. I placed 62nd overall out of 897 participants, and 11th in my wave. I am happy with my result, but I am anxious to find another event before Tough Mudder because I feel like I can do much better. From what Peter and I could tell by the results page that they posted I didn't qualify to run in the Champion's Heat, but I'm not really sure why. Perhaps I did but the results were incomplete when we checked them. At any rate I wouldn't have wanted to run it again.

 

Official results here.

 

Laments aside I thoroughly enjoyed this event. I’m not sure I enjoyed it as much as Shawnee; the two are difficult to compare, curiously enough. As I mentioned after the event, but as Peter rephrased more eloquently, Shawnee was more anaerobic while Ruckus is more aerobic.

 

I felt fairly strong for the most part. If I had the chance to go back and change something about my training I would have doubled the amount of short distance Elliptical running.

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The Shawnee Peak Challenge

Posted by Superfiend Oct 24, 2010

I woke up yesterday morning at 6:30 with my friend, Rob, who had come up to Boston to accompany me to Maine for the event. I had no desire to eat anything that morning, but I did manage to choke down a Clif Bar and some water.

 

 

I did most of the driving on the way to the event (about 3.5 hours from Boston to Shawnee Peak). We arrived and I was immediately overcome with exhilaration and anticipation. I got a few of my things together and headed for Registration where I picked up my t-shirt and packet. I attached my bib (Number 11) to my shirt, fixed my timechip to my ankle, and put my hoodie back on to keep warm while I waited for my wave's start. I ate another Clif bar and had my Endurance Booster mix about a half an hour before my run, which was perfect.

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The first wave underway, we were able to watch some of the people leading the heat and admiring their speed. The announcer for the event stated earlier that day that they estimated people would finish the course in around 50 minutes. This proved to be a gross overestimation of the course, and underestimation of the competitors. One guy finished the race before the second wave started, his final time being 28.13. Shaking our arms, jumping around and breathing nervously, we lined up at the start awaiting the siren for the second wave.

 

 

No obstacle on the course even remotely approached the hills themselves in terms of difficulty and simple, masochistic punishment. The race begins with a short jog up what is called "Long Gun Alley" which, according to the website, is 250 yards long by 100 vertical feet. Most competitors stop running halfway through this short jaunt, or are stopped by the time they reach what seems, comparatively, like a plateau.

 

 

This hill weeds out the weaker runners, or those who delude themselves into some form of illusory pacing strategy. After this first hill, you are made to run diagonally across the slope, while still slightly uphill, towards the first obstacle.

 

 

A few haphazardly constructed frames of wood compose what is meant to be the Balance Logs obstacle. My shoes, the Mudclaws, are NOT conducive to such an event. My Parkour experience, however, paid off in spades as far as balance and coordination. I deftly made my way across the beams and on to what is, in my opinion (one shared by what I imagine to be the vast majority of those involved), the worst part of the course: The B itch.

 

 

The aptly named B itch is a debilitating and seemingly indomitable gradient of a Black Diamond ski trail. Its slope is such that one cannot even see the top of the hill from a vantage point at the bottom. The website claims that it is a ratio of 100 yards long to 400 vertical feet. Running on this gradient is, for all intensive and realistic purposes, medically disastrous if not simply physiologically impossible. I began by briskly walking. Then I noticed my feet turning out to the sides to give myself more leverage against the incline. As I desperately looked up at the few competitors ahead of me I noticed that they were actually using their hands to advance. I soon followed suit. After what seemed like mere seconds of attempting this strategy I looked up again to see that they were now literally crawling on their hands and knees. Again, I conceded to imitate this strategy in an effort to gain headway against this awful predicament. I remember being passed by one person on the hill who called out to me “Great job, man, don’t stop.” This was extremely reinforcing for me, and I surged forward. About halfway up The B itch, my body gave up. I literally had nothing left to give. My mind raced. “Am I done? Am I going to simply collapse and be carried off the field? Can I psychically withstand such humiliation? Wait, am I even going to physically survive long enough to be humiliated?”

 

 

To hell with that. My boys don’t stop. I did not stop. Not once. I rallied energy from somewhere and trudged on, eventually making it to the top of the hill and after what seemed like a century of crawling on my hands and knees, I was able to stand up and to my surprise – I was running again.

 

The coordinators for the event, in their infinite wisdom, found it appropriate to allow a short downhill run after The B itch. These downhill sections were my saving grace and I regained an incalculable amount of time and distance in the run thanks to what seemed like a rest compared to the previous inclined struggles.

 

 

I should take time to mention the view from the top of the mountain. The weather yesterday was absolutely perfect. There were clear, blue skies with not a cloud in sight. The temperature was brisk and the air crisp. From the apex of the slopes one could see out in all directions around the mountain and the sight was, in a word, sublime. I had lamentably few seconds to enjoy the view, however, because the next obstacle found its place immediately around the next corner.

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Though the event was only yesterday, the order of the obstacles blurs in my mind. I believe the next obstacle, located at the top right-hand corner of the mountain was the Barrier Walls. Again, my Parkour training was infinitely helpful here. I approached the walls with two fellow runners at my sides, and I vaulted them with finesse and power while they struggled, out of breath, to hoist their limp exhausted bodies over the high wooden walls. I used a specific technique, the Kong Vault, to bring my feet up and over the walls without losing any momentum and I was through this obstacle section in a very short time.

 

 

More downhill. Sweet, sweet gravity, do your thing. We came around what was supposed to be a smoke bomb, but I suppose it had petered out by the time we got there. Back up another small hill before the next obstacle.

 

 

It is worthy of note that no competitor was running up these hills. Some were walking, some using their hands to push on their knees, some power-walking. None ran, not even me.

 

 

I was relatively isolated at this point, having distanced myself from a great majority of the other competitors in the race, and I turned a corner to encounter another obstacle, the Normandy Walls. It was essentially a small field of wooden Normandy Wall structures enclosed in a diagonal path between ski slopes. You are not allowed to put your feet on the walls, you must jump over them. I had some difficulty in coordinating my foot placement on the first few jumps. I quickly found the right rhythm, however, and overtook another competitor who was struggling with his placement as I was.

 

 

There was a long downhill run which lead to the next obstacle: High Crawl and Tires. The Tires were the most difficult for me. I attribute my difficulty to the obstacle being on a downhill slope and the size of my feet. I had a hard time keeping the placement clean and not hitting the tires. Luckily, I didn’t fall. I made it through the first set of tires and hit the ground, moving in a quadrupedal fashion under the net only to be greeted by another set of tires. I managed this set a bit easier than the first, and hit the deck again for more net quadruped movement. Two people were crowding the exit of the net, and I politely pushed my way past them, which essentially put me two more ahead. I was now in fifth place although I didn’t know it at the time.

 

 

I came down a large hill and was met at the bottom by a group of fluorescent girls toting cups of water. I grabbed one even though I didn’t want it, took a small sip, and crushed it in my hand while splashing the water all over myself. I decided not to simply toss the cup on the ground as it seemed like a lot of people were doing before me. From the bottom of that hill they make you turn around and go right back up the SAME DAMN HILL. We walked. Another obstacle affronted us: the Uneven Fences.

 

 

These are simply wooden walls, but offset at such an angle as to make vaulting them impossible, especially since you’re going uphill as you climb them. I managed these easily and was closely followed by a fellow racer named Matt. I was picking up some trash on the hill after the Fences as we made our way up. Matt stopped at one point close to the top, doubled over and hyperventilating. I said “Come on man, don’t stop. We got this.”

 

 

I started running again, making my way around the corner, picking up a piece of paper, and then going downhill towards another obstacle. The Monkey Bars were next. I made my way to the bottom of the hill, handed the trash I had collected to an attendant, and jumped up to the Monkey Bars. They were loose and spun in place as you climbed them, which made it extremely difficult to get a good grip. I was very glad to be wearing gloves. The Bars are set above a nasty pool of water. The rules state that if a participant fails at an event, they must try it again. If they fail a third time they are to be given a thirty-second penalty.

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I dominated the Monkey Bars and ran off in front of the crowd at the bottom of the hill exclaiming: “This is so fun!” to which they cheered. I ran around the bottom of the hill in front of the registration tent and the announcer to find the next obstacle, Hay Bales, which were partially destroyed as a result of some previous ungraceful participants. I vaulted the still-intact section and continued on up a small hill towards the next obstacle: the Commando Rope.

 

One is to hang upside down from the rope and shimmy across without touching the ground. I sacrificed the integrity of the skin on my legs to slide with powerful pulls from my arms, Matt right beside me. I finished first, and turned only to see another HORRIBLE hill, the simple sight of which was demoralizing.

 

 

We made our way to the hill and started our walk back up. I held my position and made it to the top. I began to run again once the terrain leveled out. Once again the run was downhill but we had some High Crawls to do. Matt was, at this point, right behind me. The High Crawls went by easily enough. The downhill run from there was punctuated with what they call The Trenches, which are essentially big gaps which the runner must jump over. I held my own as far as downhill speed, but as we turned the corner at the bottom of the hill towards the next obstacle, The Pipe, Matt cut in front of me and took fifth place in the heat. I was still, at this point, unaware of my ranking. I was of course, for the most part, generally unaware of everything else in the world with the notable exception of pain and determination.

 

 

We crawled through the Pipe which was tastefully decorated with barbed wire. After the Pipe we ran downhill some more, jumping over gaps until we turned a corner for the Mud Pit. It’s just shallow hole in the ground full of muddy water. I didn’t even have enough presence of mind at that moment to do anything spectacular or interesting, so I simply ran through it.

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The Cargo Nets, the last obstacle, were next. This obstacle comprises a series of three nets, one 12’ high, the following 10’ and the last being 8’. I had little difficulty in physically climbing the nets; it was more a question of logistics and courtesy as far as me not crushing Matt or some other guy who came out of nowhere as I descended the backside of each net. I got over the last net to see Matt crossing the finish line and I sprinted through to complete the madness.

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My name was announced as I finished so I went to talk to an official to see why. It turns out that someone had reported me picking up trash on the course, and I was to be rewarded with a metal token in addition to the medal necklaces everyone gets. I grabbed a water bottle and a banana and plopped myself down on the hill, savoring the validating exhaustion.

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I met a couple guys who were in the heat with me, and I eventually got my individual results.

 

 

I placed 6th in my wave, which was the second of the day. I placed 11th in the Men’s Open Division – which, coincidentally, matched my bib event number! – and I placed 13th overall out of the 209 official competitors in the event.

 

 

There was the option for competitors who place in the top ten percent of their division to participate in what’s called the Champion’s Heat. I qualified for this and was hesitant about actually doing it. I was worried about competing again amongst the best of the day which definitely would have inspired me to push myself even further, thereby effectively increasing my chances of injuring myself. My muscles were really tight after my wave and I eventually decided against it. It turns out that a very small number of qualifiers actually ran in the Champions Heat. The officials also opened the final heat to anyone who wanted to participate which further reduced my interest. I had a short moment of deliberation as I looked at the prize helmets which had been spray-painted gold. Somehow their cheap aesthetic appealed to me in a way which defies logical explanation. I believe that it was the right decision to not participate, however.

 

 

Rob and I went into the lodge to get some food, expecting at least a free burger or hot dog and beer. They were charging four dollars for a cheeseburger and two fifty for a hot dog while beers were five dollars. This was outrageous in my opinion, considering the registration fee. We gave in to bodily necessity, though, and ended up buying a bunch of burgers. After talking with a few fellow participants and making some friends, we left.

 

 

I am very happy with my results since it represents the first time I’ve participated in such an event. It’s significant to note that my specific training has only lasted for less than two months now, and I’ve made such progress in that time as to be able to do so well in something so difficult.

 

Outside of the physical aspect of the race there is the mental dimension which encompasses the drive, grit and motivation. In this respect there is one major aspect of my run which I believe contributed significantly to my success in this race: I never looked behind me. I had no conscious thoughts about my place in terms of other competitors (until the end when Matt and I were neck-and-neck), and I only ever brought my gaze up from the trail to assess obstacles or to enjoy the view. This focus was infinitely helpful.

 

 

I am currently extremely sore. More than I’ve been in a long time, despite how much protein I’ve consumed in an effort to effectively recover. I’m giving myself a few days of stretching and conscious dieting to get myself back to normal. So far I see no signs of imminent shin splints.

480 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: running, mountain, endurance, challenge, mud, hill, tough, peak, shawnee, mudder, mudclaw, shawnee_peak_challenge

Opération Mousquetaire

Posted by Superfiend Oct 21, 2010

I've gone trail running three times since my last entry, and each time went well. It's become something of an obsession.

 

The first couple minutes of the run are still the worst, but I attribute that to the lack of warmup before the run and the incline of the initial hill. The first of the three most recent runs saw me more motivated than usual. I grabbed a log off the ground around the 1.5 mile mark and ran it down the hill to where I usually rest. I took a short break, grabbed the log, and ran it back up the hill while people looked on. It destroyed my legs by the time I reached the top of the small hill, which was only a short distance, so I placed the log at the top of the hill and kept running. It certainly added a dimension to the run, but it made me wonder how the log part is incorporated into the actual races. In the videos and pictures I've seen it seems like the people are simply walking the logs up the hills instead of running. I figure that if I train by running I'll be a lot stronger in the walk, or I'll just end up running the damn thing up the hill anyway.

 

I also noticed that the trail run itself is longer than I initially estimated. The run from the beginning to the Museum section is about 1.5 miles, which makes the round trip around 3 miles total, which is perfect for these events. I'm running the three miles of trail hills in around a half an hour.

 

I was initially apprehensive about running this morning considering the forthcoming event's proximity. I decided to just run anyway and it seems like I got out unscathed. I slowed down by the end of the run because my calves were crying and I was worried about shin splints. They seem fine now; I think the protein shakes have a lot to do with avoiding that condition. My recoveries have been swift and I haven't had any soreness after even the most intense exercises.

 

I have another friend coming to visit this weekend, and Saturday is the Shawnee Peak Challenge. My friend will accompany me, but not to participate. I'm considering dressing up in some ridiculous costume which I'll likely find tomorrow. I'd rather not be another run-of-the-mill competitor with UnderArmour uppers, gloves, shorts and running shoes.

 

I'll be writing in again after the event with a full report. I expect it to be not only a great time, but a springboard for my training and a gauge of my current level as compared to the other competitors.

310 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, running, trail, endurance, supplements, trail_running, protein, shawnee, mudder, mudclaw

Hipoteza izostazji

Posted by Superfiend Oct 14, 2010

I woke up and got ready for my trail run. I ate a Clif bar, drank the Endurance Boosta, and had a packet of medicine-flavored Gatorade prep juice stuff.

 

I drove to the trails, got my Mudclaws on, stretched a bit, and took off up the trail. The weather was great and there were a few people walking on the trail. I ran to the Museum end without any difficulty. My arms were a bit stiff when I started, and as usual the first few minutes were the worst. Once I worked through the lethargy at the outset it felt like I was running downhill the whole time. The inclines were no trouble at all, and almost felt good.

 

I hurdled a high gate after reaching the bottom of the hill at the Museum, walked around twice in a circle, and resolved to just power right back up the hill without any significant rest - which was meant to simulate the amount of rest I might get before an obstacle in these events. On the way back up the first hill from the Museum, which is very rocky, I remember thinking "Wow I didn't get enough rest, I don't think I'll run the whole thing" but I basically just told myself to shut the hell up and run it.

 

And I did.

 

I ran the whole rest of the trail back to the entrance and flopped down on the grass to stretch and breathe the fresh air. It was terrific. My stretching habits are getting better (usually isometrics every day I run and regular static/dynamic on Strength days).

 

I have a friend coming to visit this weekend and I have to make sure this doesn't interfere with training. Only a short time before Shawnee, but I'll be ready for it. I'm beginning to, perhaps naively, imagine being amongst the top finishers. I've also been eyeing this log which would fit nicely on my shoulders for the run...

327 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, running, trail, endurance, trail-running, supplements, tough, shawnee, tough-mudder, mudder, mudclaw

Brotein and Boosta

Posted by Superfiend Sep 10, 2010

I've added two supplements to my diet and regularized my workout somewhat.

 

Amplified Wheybolic Extreme 60 (AMP, GNC)

     -Daily supplement. Whey isolates.

     -I usually take two to three scoops in 12-15oz of cold water about 30 minutes after my workout. Evidently water-based mixes absorb faster than a milk-base. I'll miss the milk, though, because it tastes so damn good.

 

Amplified Endurance Booster (AMP, GNC) "Aerobic competition accelerator"

     - Dietary supplement. Electrolytes, carbs, Hydrolysates and all kinds of other incomprehensible crap.

     - One scoop, but it doesn't dissolve very well in water, so I ended up drinking a lot more than the 12-14 recommended ounces of water. You're supposed to take one scoop 30 minutes before the workout, and one during, but I haven't been using it during the workout. I tend to just bring a bottle of Propel.

 

Workout is now divided into two programs: Strength and Endurance.

 

Strength has not changed significantly since my last entry's description.

 

Endurance improves noticeably every time I go to the gym. **Of note: I'm listening to crazy music now while I work out. One track is about an hour of nonstop techno that is all 180bpm (which I found on Podrunner) and the two other tracks just inspire me (E.S. Posthumus, Arise & Unstoppable)

 

     - I ran again this morning to the complex (1 mile) and it was a lot easier than last time. I went directly to the elliptical and set the timer to 30 minutes on the Varied program. I ran hard, occasionally trying to match my pace to the beat of the horribly fast techno track as it pounded in my ears. The 30 minutes went by relatively quickly, and as a "bonus" I cranked up the Incline to 20, which I think is the highest, and powered through the last minute before the 5-minute cool down. It hurt, but I wasn't wiped out afterwards, which shows improvement over my last elliptical jaunt.

          - Average heart rate: 147, 16:30 time in "zone". Total Distance on Elliptical: 2.87 miles.

 

     - After the elliptical I decided to randomly do pullups. I did ten overhand, beyond shoulder-width pulls followed by five regular chinups.

 

     - I went upstairs to the rowing machine and thought I would do ten minutes, but had to stop at five because my knee was aching. I ended up rowing about 1067m according to the counter.

 

     - Back downstairs to the pool. I swam my typical routine with a longer stretch at the end:

 

     100 Free warmup

     100 Breast

     50 Fly

     100 Back

          30-second rest in between sets

 

     Kickboard: 50 Flutter, 50 Breast, 50 Fly. 15 second rest in between sets. Repeat three sets.

 

     200 Free

 

I feel great, and am noticing improvement with every session. I'm looking into some hikes in the Boston area and have found a few promising trails. I'm planning on going out for one this weekend to get a feel for my performance on rugged hilly trails.

 

In other news, I signed up for another event. This one is called the Shawnee Peak Challenge. It takes place on October 23rd. It calls itself "the single most authentic obstacle challenge course available without enlisting." It's only 2-3 miles long, though, which is less than half the distance of the Tough Mudder. I plan on using this event as a gauge of my level by the end of October, and as a springboard for my training.

 

I ordered shoes . They should come in soon, and I expect to have them well worn in before my event in October. We'll see how they hold up by April.

334 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, swimming, endurance, supplements, protein, elliptical, whey, rowing, shawnee, mudder, mudclaw

The Beginning

Posted by Superfiend Sep 7, 2010

This is officially my first "blog". I'll do you all a favor right now and ensure that this is strictly about my training and not about my pretentious assumption that you give a damn what I had for lunch or how bored I am in school. I know where the chase is and how to cut right to it. The name of the blog makes reference to our team name: Marauders, of which I am the captain.

 

I decided the next two years of my life would include a substantial investment in athleticism regardless of any official involvement in events. I recently moved to Boston for Graduate School, and the school itself (Boston College) has a great Athletics Complex with a full weight room, courts of all kinds, a pool…and a jousting arena. I joust.

 

I had been doing some moderate training on my own, motivated to start running again thanks to the nearby reservoir after a mishap in France of over-running myself to the point of getting shin splints which, for those of you who have not experienced it, is a pleasure beyond simple linguistic description. I brought my kettlebells (two twenty pounders), my weighted jump rope (2lbs), my door frame pullup bar and an insufficient amount of whey protein mix. I worked out the first couple of days of my stay in Boston just out of sheer boredom. I finally worked up the courage to run again and took off to the reservoir. I was overly unimpressed with my performance (barely making it around its circumference of about a mile and a half), and resolved to visit it again, but not too soon for fear of tearing my apparently feeble calf muscle fibers. That day I came across a link for the Tough Mudder competition.

 

My experience with these style events goes back to a fascination I had developed while abroad for a year. I was in the habit of exercising on my own, again for no organized event, and stumbled upon a video for Tough Guy, which is amazingly inspiring and motivating. I unfortunately could not attend this event for various reasons and aside from sending the link to a few friends and inventing fantastic and ultimately specious aspirations for one day competing, it managed to fade away into my subconscious.

 

Tough Mudder breathed new life into these lost aspirations, and I resolved to compete, even alone. I rallied the interest of a few friends who I believe will be good additions to my team not only by the graces of their physical fitness but more importantly by the commensurate strength of our friendships. The day I discovered and decided to participate in Tough Mudder was coincidentally the same day I first ran the reservoir and though that was meant to be my only workout for the day I ended up working out again that night (Kettlebells, Pushups, Pullups, One-Leg Squats, Iron Bridge & Leg Crossovers...etc) and took a freezing shower to get tough. It felt incredible and my friends all seemed to be just as excited at the prospect as I was/am.

 

I've found a new motivation to train and it gives meaning to my exercise beyond general fitness, health and other various justifications to physical activity. Though the event is seven months away, I feel it looming as a distant reminder of my resolve and drive.

 

My current exercise routine consists as follows:

 

Lifting:

Kettlebells (Two, 20-pounds)

     Swings - 20 both hands between legs followed by 15 each hand followed by 10 alternating hands.

     "Curl Jerk"  - Something of my own invention. Standing straight, start with bicep curl from waist, then moves to a clean above head, then bring the bell behind you bending arm at the elbow, back up working the tricep, then back down to starting position.

     Rows - One in each hand.

     One-Leg Squat - Holding one kettlebell at chest level, squat down with one leg to full squat position, hold for a second, push back up and repeat. I usually do between 5-10 reps for each leg depending on whether I've done other leg work.

     Pushups - Propped on handles of the kettlebells, dip down for one deep pushup, come back up, lift kettlebell above self to make a vertical line with both arms, pump kettlebell once, bring back down, do two pushups, two pumps...etc. I usually do five working my weaker arm more.

    

Pullups

     I do them intermittently throughout the day. I alternate between (predominantly) overhand, wider than shoulder-width, thumbs facing me at shoulder width, and palms facing me inside shoulder width chinup.

 

Weighted Jump Rope (Each handle is 1lb)

     As long as I can. I've been counting jumps and I usually get around 150 before I lose form and call it a set.

 

Running

     I really don't enjoy running, but it's essential for this event (about a seven mile run). I've run the reservoir once since I got here. In order to emulate just the distance aspect of the Tough Mudder I'd have to run around the reservoir about 5 times. This isn't taking into account the angle of the hills I'll be running at Bear Creek, so I'll have to work some ellipticals and angled treadmills at the gym unless I manage to find a good outdoor place to run near Boston.

 

Swimming

     I love swimming, but I'm not in swimming shape like I was in High School. I'm working it into my schedule, and expect to see great improvement in my overall fitness as a result. I won't go into details about what I swim because 1) I really don't have a set workout yet and 2) because it's pretty much irrelevant anyway.

 

I divide days by the activity. I swim in the mornings and lift at night. Then I’ll run the next day, and possibly lift again that night. I listen to my body and rest when I think it’s appropriate.

 

My diet is inconsistent at the moment because of the recent change in my lifestyle, but I’m making sure to eat lots of protein (eggs, whey, meats) and take in plenty of calories (frequent, decently portioned meals) to offset the increased physical activity. I’ll regularize my diet soon and hopefully have something intelligent to post in the coming weeks.

 

I feel great about this initiative in every way. I’m optimistic about my team’s energy, my personal training and the multiple benefits it will afford us as individuals and a team unit.

 

If I get ambitious I might make a video of my workout routine and post it.

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